New Childhood Vaccine Recommendations for a New Year
WebMD News Archive
Jan. 4, 2000 (Atlanta) -- Childhood vaccine recommendations for the U.S. in
the year 2000 bring several major changes, but few surprises. The annual
advisory is a joint effort of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the
CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the American
Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
"People should know that immunization ranks right up there with the
greatest achievements of the 20th century," Michael Gerber, MD, FAAP, a
member of the AAP committee on infectious diseases, tells WebMD. "We have
eliminated smallpox, are on the verge of eliminating polio, and can eliminate
measles and other killer diseases. Because of the success of vaccination,
people no longer realize how awful whooping cough or Haemophilus
influenzaemeningitis can be. People need to remember that the benefits far
outweigh the risks of vaccination."
The 2000 immunization schedule has three major changes: it recommends
complete replacement of oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV) with inactivated
poliovirus vaccine (IPV); it advises routine childhood hepatitis A virus (HAV)
vaccination in 11 states; and it advises continued suspension of rotavirus
A bigger change may come later in the year when experts anticipate FDA
approval of a pneumococcal vaccine capable of preventing a common cause of
bacterial meningitis and pneumonia as well as bloodstream infections.
Roger Burr, MD, MPH, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC's National
Immunization Program in Atlanta, tells WebMD that the most important difference
this year is the change to an all-IPV schedule. The IPV contains an inactivated
virus as opposed to a live virus.
ACIP chairman John F. Modlin, MD, agrees. "The change to inactivated
vaccine is part of a natural progression of policy that has been taking place
over the past several years," he tells WebMD. "We have had two
vaccines. The oral vaccine is live, and can cause very rare cases of
poliomyelitis. Because the threat of polio is diminishing on a worldwide basis,
it is now considered prudent to use the inactivated vaccine."
From 1962 until the mid-1990s, the U.S. relied entirely on the oral
poliovirus vaccine. Because this live vaccine replicates just like virulent
polio, it could actually spread and extend vaccine coverage in areas where
relatively few people actually received the vaccine -- a phenomenon called