Vaccines against seasonal influenza should be given routinely to children aged from six months to five years, according to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee.

Current immunisation strategies allow the vaccination of infants aged from six months to two years, but this does not provide enough protection, the panel concluded. Hospitalization rates are the same in young children as in older patients – the group most commonly targeted by vaccination programmes – and each year flu kills more children than measles, chickenpox and whooping cough combined, according to the CDC.

The expansion of flu vaccine coverage would 5 million more patients to the 180 million already urged to receive seasonal flu vaccines.

Earlier this week, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) also recommended that Merck & Co’s rotavirus vaccine Rotateq also be added into routine infant immunization schedules.