Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

New vaccines set for upcoming flu season

sneezehanky.jpgSummer’s still in full swing, but the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is already thinking about flu season. The regulatory agency just announced that it has approved the flu vaccine for 2010-2011, and it includes protection against the 2009 pandemic H1N1 ‘swine flu’ strain as well as regular seasonal influenza.

Nearly 20% of the population in the US suffers some form of influenza each year, leading to more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths, according to estimates from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

This year’s crop of flu vaccines includes: Afluria by CSL Limited; Agriflu and Fluvirin from Novartis; GlaxoSmithKline’s Fluarix; FluLaval, manufactured by the ID Biomedical Corporation; FluMist, from MedImmune; and Fluzone and Fluzone High-Dose from Sanofi-Pasteur. The vaccines contain two strains of influenza A virus&mdash H3N2 and the “swine flu” strain of H1N1&mdash as well as influenza B virus.

For this flu season, the FDA recommends that all people six months or older get vaccinated. Previous guidelines focused on vaccinating the subset of the population most at risk for serious complications resulting from influenza: children, the elderly, people with existing health issues and those likely to come into contact with these high-risk groups.

Image by mcfarlandmo via Flickr Creative Commons

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