ATLANTA, Ga. - The inhalable flu vaccine should be given each year to children as young as 2, an advisory vaccine panel said Wednesday.
The government currently recommends the inhalable FluMist for healthy people ages 5 to 49. Only traditional shots have been recommended for children younger than 5.
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But recent studies have shown FluMist, made by Maryland-based MedImmune, to be safe and effective in kids as young as 2. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month approved its use for that age group.
On Wednesday, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises government health officials, recommended its use for younger children who are healthy. Committee members said children with a history of asthma or wheezing should opt for a shot.
Recommendations by the panel usually are accepted by U.S. health officials, and they influence insurance companies' decisions on vaccination coverage. The committee also voted that a government program that pays for vaccines extend its FluMist coverage to the younger age group, meaning millions of added children will now be eligible for FluMist doses.