All schoolchildren in the US should get flu shots, a CDC panel advises. Current guidelines call for shots for those ages 6 months to 5 years, but the new recommendation raises the age to 18, an expansion of 30 million youngsters, the AP reports. The CDC is expected to adopt the advice, but it may not have a practical effect until next year's round of shots.
About 25 to 50 children die from influenza per year, a relatively small number out of 36,000 annual deaths. But the panel hopes vaccinating children will prevent the disease from spreading, especially to the vulnerable elderly, and reduce sick days for parents. Pediatricians say they need time to prepare for the blitz. "This is the only vaccination that pediatricians in my community don't want to have to give," one panel member said.