One in Five U.S. Toddlers Got Recommended Influenza Shots

By John Lauerman

Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Just one of five U.S. children ages six months to two years got government-recommended influenza vaccinations during the 2006-2007 season, health officials said.

The elderly — about two-thirds of whom were immunized according to government guidelines in the 2006-2007 season — and toddlers are among the most vulnerable to illness and death from flu virus infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said today in an e-mailed statement.

At least 86 children died of flu, the most common cause of death among diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, in the most recent season, 2007-2008, the Atlanta-based agency said. Health experts and government officials gathered in Washington today to urge 261 million Americans covered by CDC’s recommendations to get flu vaccine made by Sanofi-Aventis SA,GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG, AstraZeneca Plc, and CSL Ltd.

“Influenza vaccine saves lives by not only helping to prevent flu, but also by preventing the serious complications that sometimes result from infection with influenza,” CDC Director Julie Gerberding said in the statement. “I want everyone that’s recommended to get a vaccine to get one and for them to encourage their loved ones to get one too.”

The flu-shot makers predicted in May that they would manufacture a supply of at least 143 million doses for the coming season. Paris-based Sanofi, the biggest supplier, is expected to make at least 50 million, followed by Switzerland- based Novartis, planning to make 40 million, and London-based Glaxo, expecting to make as many as 38 million.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Lauerman in Boston atjlauerman@bloomberg.net.

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