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August 2008
Vol. 18 No. 8
Flu Vaccine Begins Shipping

Flu vaccine for the upcoming season has begun shipping from five manufacturers. All three strains of virus have been changed this season, following mismatches in last season’s vaccine.

Four inactivated vaccines—Fluzone from Sanofi Pasteur, Fluvirin from Novartis, Fluarix from GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, and FluLaval from ID Biomedical Corporation of Quebec—as well as MedImmune’s live, attenuated FluMist vaccine have received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the companies report shipping the first lots of vaccine.

CSL Limited's Afluria is also expected to enter the market this year. Vaccine supply is expected to be excellent and may set a record.

Last season, the vaccine’s A (H3N2) strain and influenza B strain were a poor match for the circulating viruses. All three strains have been changed in this season’s vaccine. The new formulation includes an A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus, an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus, and a B/Florida/4/2006-like virus. The latter two strains are currently included in the Southern Hemisphere’s flu vaccines.

Despite last season’s poor match, the vaccine was still partially effective, according to an interim study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and researchers at the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin.

For this season, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends yearly vaccination for all children aged 6 months to 18 years, with an emphasis on children aged 6 months to 5 years because of their elevated risk of complications from influenza. As of this season, ACIP has cleared live, attenuated vaccine for healthy children as young as 2 years. The previous recommendation was for people 5 to 49 years old.
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Flu Vaccine Begins Shipping
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