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Flu Shots Encouraged for Babies and Toddlers

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – For the first time, parents of children between the ages of six and 23 months are encouraged to have them immunized against influenza. Here in Erie County, health officials are not officially recommending inoculations. But they say the shots can't hurt.

The Centers for Disease Control have revised their thinking when it comes to influenza vaccines for young children. This, after very preliminary research found children under two are hospitalized for the flu at the same rate that people over 65 are.

But Medical director of the Erie County Health Department, Dr. Richard Judelsohn, said the change lacks the status of an official recommendation.

"The wording that the CDC used in their statement is that they 'encourage' the immunization of infants between six and 23 months of age against influenza," Judelsohn said. "When you're that young, it takes two doses a month apart to become protected."

Babies under six months are not able to be vaccinated against the flu. So, the CDC suggests their parents and other caregivers be inoculated.

Unlike last year, Judelsohn says there are sufficient supplies of the flu vaccine to meet the demand. He said the best advice for parents is to talk to their pediatrician.

"I would advise parents who are of a strong preventive nature to request that the influenza vaccine be given to their baby or child," Judelsohn continued.

Judelsohn said local health insurers have agreed to a reimbursement level for the vaccine so that local doctors offices and clinics aren't losing money when they administer it to patients.