ATLANTA (AP) -- A government advisory panel decided Wednesday to encourage flu shots for children ages 6 months to 23 months -- a group not previously on the recommended list for the vaccine.
The government currently recommends the vaccine only for the elderly, the chronically ill and pregnant women, although it is available to others who want it.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's immunization panel said new research shows 6- to 23-month-olds are at increased risk for flu-related hospitalizations.
Before making a full-fledged recommendation to doctors that the children get annual vaccines, the panel wants to study the possible impact on providers and parents, said the CDC's Dr. Keiji Fukuda.
Beginning next flu season, the advisory panel will also encourage people at lower risk for flu to wait until November to get shots. October shots should be reserved for people at high risk, the panel said.
The panel said it expects 88 million to 93 million doses of flu vaccine to be available for the 2002-03 flu season, up from 87 million this year.
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