July 21, 2009

Flu Vaccine Approved By The FDA

The Food and Drug Administration approved a seasonal flu vaccine on Monday, and announced that Americans should plan to be vaccinated.

Vaccines against the seasonal flu usually become available in September or October and flu experts say that it is worth it to be immunized as late as January, because February is the peak for the U.S. influenza season.

The new H1N1 swine flu virus has circulated all summer and companies are working to make a separate vaccine against what the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic strain.

"The seasonal influenza vaccine will not protect against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus that resulted in the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization on June 11, 2009," the FDA said in a statement.

"Although this year's seasonal vaccine is directed against other strains of influenza expected to be circulating and will not provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, it is still important for those Americans for whom it is recommended to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine."

The U.S. government says a swine flu vaccine should be available by mid-October and it will most likely be offered to young adults and older children, with healthcare workers fist in line so they can be immune to vaccinate everyone else.

There are six companies that make the seasonal flu vaccine in the U.S. market.  Those companies are GlaxoSmithKline Plc and ID Biomedical Corp, Novartis AG, Sanofi-Aventis SA and AstraZeneca, through its MedImmune unit, and CSL Ltd.

The seasonal flu contains three strains of the most common circulating flu viruses.

Every year, between 5 percent and 20 percent of the U.S. population develops influenza.  Over 200,000 people are hospitalized from its complications and about 36,000 people die in the U.S.  Between 250,000 to 500,000 people die around the world each year from influenza.


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