June 26, 2014
The MedImmune Specialty Care division of AstraZeneca announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that when available, Live Attenuated Influenza Vaccine (LAIV) should be used for healthy children 2 to 8 years of age, who have no contraindications or precautions. The ACIP’s unanimous vote was based on a systematic evidence-based assessment methodology called the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (also known as GRADE).
The decision by the ACIP is an important step toward guiding healthcare professionals in the protection of children, who have a high burden of influenza disease. The recommendation for LAIV within this population was based on a review by the ACIP of the available safety, efficacy and quality of clinical evidence in the public domain.
“The recommendation is the first time a preference for a specific type of influenza vaccine has been made within a certain population in the United States,” said Kathleen Coelingh, Ph.D., Senior Director, AstraZeneca US Medical Affairs. “In Canada and the United Kingdom, LAIV is already the preferred influenza vaccine for eligible children 2 to 17 years of age based on recommendations by the Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, respectively. Additionally, the World Health Organization’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts has stated that when available, LAIV provides higher levels of protection in young children.”
The ACIP makes recommendations on the use of licensed vaccine products given the broader population-based public health and epidemiologic concerns of controlling infectious diseases. However, decisions on which influenza vaccine to use should be made by a qualified healthcare professional who should consult each product’s FDA approved labeling as not all products are approved for all persons and FDA labeling may not match recommendations such as these.
Despite the CDC’s universal recommendation that all individuals 6 months of age and older receive a flu vaccine each year, vaccination rates are still lagging at approximately 40-50 percent. The CDC states influenza vaccination is the first and most important step to help protect against this disease. ACIP stated that influenza vaccination should not be delayed to procure a specific vaccine if an appropriate option is already available. If LAIV is not immediately available, inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) should be used.
“AstraZeneca looks forward to continuing their collaboration with the public health community to help raise awareness about the importance of influenza vaccination for eligible preschool- and school-age children and their family members,” said Coelingh.
The ACIP’s official recommendations will be published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report/MMWR in policy note format. For more information, please go to http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/.
LAIV is covered by over 99 percent of health insurance plans with immunization benefits; therefore, most patients who have insurance coverage for immunizations have coverage for LAIV.
NOTES TO EDITORS
About MedImmune Specialty Care
The MedImmune Specialty Care Division of AstraZeneca is a patient-focused, biopharmaceutical business unit responsible for the commercialization of small molecule and biologic prescription medicines for AstraZeneca. Within the U.S., MedImmune Specialty Care provides commercial support and insights for in-line marketed products addressing respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity, oncology, infection and vaccines. Headquarters are located in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
AstraZeneca is a global, innovation-driven biopharmaceutical business that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammation, autoimmune, oncology, infection and neuroscience diseases. AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. For more information please visit www.astrazeneca-us.com.