CDC extends influenza vaccine guidelines

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated its guidelines for influenza immunizations.

The CDC now recommends eligible children from the ages of 6 months to 18 years receive flu shots in preparation for the 2008-09 flu season. Previously, the center recommended immunizations for children from 6 months to 6 years of age.

"Immunizing more children against the flu ultimately protects the entire community against an outbreak of flu," the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported in a news release. "By preventing these children from getting sick, family members also are protected, as well as the many other people these children might come in contact with on a daily basis."

Vaccine manufacturers are increasing their output to accommodate for a projected increase in flu shot requests. This year, immunization supplies could reach unsurpassed levels, with as many as 146 million flu vaccine doses available in the U.S.

Although flu season usually peaks in January or February, some cases are reported in October. People who receive the vaccine now may have immunity through March.

The flu is a virus that causes a highly contagious respiratory illness. It can lead to health complications and, in some cases, death.

Every year, between 5 and 20 percent of Americans contract the flu on average.

Of that percentage, "more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu complications and about 36,000 people die from flu," the state Health Department reported.

Young children, the elderly and people with some health conditions may be at a higher risk of having flu complications.

For more information about the flu vaccine clinics, call 877-462-2911 or visit www.immunizecolorado.com.

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