Research shows children under 2 years of age are hospitalized due to influenza infection at the same high rate as persons 65 years and older. In 2002, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new policy to encourage influenza vaccination of all children 6 to 23 months of age. Extensive research and communication with key pediatric influenza thoughtleaders, policy makers and practicing physicians showed most physicians supported pediatric influenza immunization, but needed to overcome infrastructure barriers in their practices to implement annual flu vaccination programs. In addition, thoughtleaders and physicians identified several perceived barriers to 6- to 23-month-old influenza immunization.
In 2002, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases launched the Flu Fight for Kids initiative to stimulate discussion on the topic and to create a climate of receptivity for routine annual influenza vaccination of infants and children 6 to 23 months of age. Thoughtleaders and policy makers needed to be convinced that immunization of 6- to 23-month-old children was feasible. At the same time, parents needed to become aware of their children’s risk for flu and ask their health care providers to vaccinate their children.
It also provides “best practice models” for achieving optimal influenza vaccination rates. The document was widely distributed and presented to the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as a resource to demonstrate that annual influenza vaccination programs can be implemented in physician practices.