Influenza Season Vaccines for 2010-2011 Approved By the FDA

The FDA announced that it has approved vaccines based on the recommendations of the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. Based on the findings of agencies such as WHO and the CDC, three strains, including an H1N1-like virus, have been identified as those likely to cause the most illness for the 2010-2011 influenza season in the United States.

Seasonal influenza vaccine protects against all three strains of influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, which caused the 2009 pandemic, according to a press release. Last year because the 2009 H1N1 virus emerged after production began on the seasonal vaccine, two separate vaccines were needed to protect against seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic flu virus, but this year, only one vaccine is necessary.

According to the CDC, between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population develops influenza each year, leading to more than 200,000 hospitalizations from related complications and about 36,000 deaths.

“The best way to protect yourself and your family against influenza is to get vaccinated every year,” Karen Midthun, MD, acting director of FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, stated in the release. “The availability of a new seasonal influenza vaccine each year is an important tool in the prevention of influenza related illnesses and death.”

In addition to the important role that health care providers play in recommending influenza vaccination for their patients, influenza vaccination of health care personnel is important to protect themselves, their patients, their family, and the community from influenza. FDA urges health care organizations to encourage their members to get vaccinated.

Each year, experts from FDA, WHO, CDC, and other institutions study virus samples and patterns collected worldwide to identify strains likely to cause the most illness during the upcoming season.

Based on that information and the recommendations of FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, manufacturers included the respective three strains in the 2010-2011 vaccines.

Vaccines for the 2010-2011 seasonal influenza contain the following strains:

  • A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus (pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus);
  • A/Perth /16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus; and
  • B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

There is always a possibility of a less than optimal match between the virus strains predicted to circulate and the virus strains that end up causing the most illness. However, even if the vaccine and the circulating strains are not an exact match, the vaccine may reduce the severity of the illness or may help prevent influenza-related complications.

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