Around 30 million extra children in the USA could soon be vaccinated against the flu after a US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee recommended expanding routine immunisation to include those aged six months to 18 years.

Currently, annual flu shots are given to all children aged six months to five years, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices has also recommended that the expanded programme including those up to the age of 18 be implemented no later than the 2009/10 season.

AstraZeneca-owned MedImmune has welcomed the move, pointing out that research has shown significant reductions in influenza-like illness, visits to the doctor, medication use and work/school absenteeism in children who have been vaccinated compared to those who haven’t.

The company says it is preparing to manufacture a “record number” of doses of its nasal spray vaccine FluMist for the upcoming season, “with the intention of continuing to substantially increase production in subsequent seasons”.