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MONDAY, July 18 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza may be far from most Americans' thoughts as much of the nation wilts under oppressive heat, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday that it's already preparing for the 2011-12 flu season.
The FDA said it has approved the vaccine formulation for the upcoming season, and six manufacturers have been chosen to produce and distribute the vaccines for the United States.
"Vaccines to prevent seasonal influenza have a long and successful track record of safety and effectiveness in the United States," Dr. Karen Midthun, director of FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release. "It is important to get vaccinated every year, even if the strains in the vaccine do not change, because the protection received the previous year will diminish over time and may be too low to provide protection into the next year."
The 2011-12 vaccine formulation is designed to protect against the three virus strains that scientists believe will be most prevalent during the coming flu season. It also includes the same virus strains used for the 2010-11 season.
The selected strains for 2011-12 are:
- A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus (pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus,
- A/Perth /16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus,
- B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
The brand names and manufacturers of the vaccines are: Afluria, CSL Limited; Fluarix, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; FluLaval, ID Biomedical Corporation; FluMist, MedImmune Vaccines Inc.; Fluvirin, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited; and Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Intradermal, Sanofi Pasteur Inc. Fluzone Intradermal, approved in May, will be available for people ages 18 years through 64 years. This vaccine is delivered into the skin, rather than the muscle, using a very small needle, according to the FDA.
An estimated 5 percent to 20 percent of Americans come down with the flu each year, leading to more than 200,000 hospitalizations from related complications. Flu-related deaths vary yearly, ranging from a low of about 3,000 to a high of 49,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot each year.
There's always a chance that a flu vaccine won't be a great match against circulating virus strains. But, even if the vaccine and the circulating strains aren't an exact match, the vaccine may reduce the severity of the illness or may help prevent flu-related complications, the FDA said.
To learn more about flu and flu vaccines, visit the CDC.