CDC Recommends More Kids Get Seasonal Flu Shots This Year : Shots - Health News Seasonal flu is coming back, too — CDC wants most kids under 18 to get flu shots.
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CDC Recommends More Kids Get Seasonal Flu Shots This Year

Dr. Joseph Ballinger gives New York nurse Margorie Hill of Montefiore Hospital a flu shot in the midst of the 1957 pandemic. /AP hide caption

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In the midst of all the talk about swine flu, U.S. health officials paused today to remind everybody that seasonal flu can be a killer, too, and to urge us all -- especially children -- to take stronger precautions this year.

The CDC says it is "recommending" that children betweeen the ages of six months and 18 years get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in the next couple of months. That word choice is stronger then the usual "encouragment" that kids get a flu shot "when feasible," the CDC's Anne Schuchat told a press briefing.

The advice is aimed at protecting young people and shielding everyone they come in contact with, she says. Kids tend to spread flu and, come fall, both the old and new strains are likely to be circulating simultaneously in the Northern Hemisphere.

But how bad is the new H1N1 flu likely to be in the U.S.?

No telling for sure. Schuchat says the worst case scenario suggests that 40 percent of Americans will "be affected" by swine flu over the next two years -- meaning they'll either get sick themselves, or have to interrupt their daily lives to take care of someone who is sick.

But that's only if the new vaccines that are just now being tested don't work, and if people ignore the old tried-and-true advice to wash hands often and to avoid coughing, sneezing, or otherwise breathing on others when ill.

Schuchat had some more advice for summer camps that seem to be handing out Tamiflu like candy: Stop. Indiscriminate use of anti-viral drugs among people who aren't sick or otherwise vulnerable, she says, could inspire the new H1N1 flu -- or the old flu -- to figure out a work-around.