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CDC Issues Flu Vaccine Recommendations

Autumn marks the arrival of the flu vaccine season. Supplies are expected to be ample this year, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned that vaccine distribution might get off to a slow start. It's recommending that people who are not at high risk from flu and its complications wait until after Oct. 24 to get their shots.

Each year, around 36,000 people die from diseases related to flu, including pneumonia, according to the CDC. People who are at high risk and need to consider getting their shots early include:

-- persons aged 65 years or older

-- residents of long-term care facilities

-- persons aged 2 to 64 years with pre-existing health conditions

-- children aged 6 to 23 months

-- pregnant women

-- health care personnel who provide direct patient care

-- household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children aged less than 6 months

After Oct. 24, the CDC says that anyone who wants a shot should go ahead and get one.

The CDC is not recommending any restrictions on an alternative flu vaccine -- an inhaled version known by the brand name FluMist. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of this vaccine in nonpregnant, healthy people aged 5 to 49 years old. (The vaccine hasn't been studied sufficiently in other people, the FDA says.)

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Joe Neel is NPR's deputy senior supervising editor and a correspondent on the Science Desk.