Seniors Move to the End of the Line

The CDC met today and voted on who will get the swine flu vaccine and who won’t. Here is the list of those that made the cut.

— Pregnant women, for two reasons. First, because the evidence suggests they’re more likely than other adults to develop serious complications or die when infected with swine flu (or seasonal flu). And second, because they pass their immunity on to the fetus, which health officials hope will also help protect the infants after birth.

— Household contacts and caregivers of children under six months. Infants that young can’t be vaccinated, so immunizing their family members and others who care for them is the best way to keep the babies under six-months-old safe.

— The 14 million health care and emergency service workers in the United States. That’s because they could spread the illness to vulnerable populations, and also because high absenteeism among health care workers could bring down the health care system.

— All children, adolescents, and young adults age six months to 24 years. A number of reasons for this. Epidemiological data gathered so far suggest that the youngest in this group have a higher-than-average risk of getting so sick with the new H1N1 flu that they need hospitalization. And older kids, teens and young adults tend to quickly spread flu through schools. Plus, there’s a domino effect through the economy when parents have to stay home to care for sick kids.

— Adults age 25 through 64 who have underlying medical conditions, such as heart or respiratory illness, diabetes, or other conditions that suppress their immune systems. Swine flu is likely to hit them harder than healthy adults.

So who is missing?

Those over age 65.

Last on the list are people 65 and older, said the members of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. This sounds cold-hearted, but the committee says its reasoning is based on the science of the pandemic so far. There have been far fewer cases of swine flu in this elderly group. Researchers think that’s because older people have higher levels of immunity to this strain of flu.

Now isn’t that special?

Wonder what AARP has to say about that?

Smaller cars, bigger health insurance, Poppa Washington.

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