FDA approves flu vaccine for coming season

July 18, 2011 4:00:10 PM PDT
This may be the season for flip-flops and iced tea, but a Pennsylvania drug maker is thinking winter.

Sanofi Pasteur today shipped the first of what will be 70 million doses of vaccine for the winter ahead.

The shipment includes it's regular Fluzone vaccine, as well as a new high-dose vaccine for those 65 and older, who sometimes don't get enough protection from regular doses.

This year, the company also has a newly-approved vaccine that's delivered through a micro-needle, 90 per cent shorter than standard needles. The Fluzone Intradermal vaccine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2011. It is expected to appeal to a younger poopulation, those 18 and up, an age group which has a lower immunization rate.

Sanofi is the nation's largest flu vaccine maker, making 40 per cent of the nation's supply.

Each year the FDA works with other federal agencies and global health experts to design a vaccine to protect against the three viral strains most likely to cause the flu. The vaccine will be manufactured by six companies: GlaxoSmithKline, CSL Limited, ID Biomedical Corp., Medimmune Vaccines, Novartis and Sanofi.

Between 5 and 20 percent of Americans get the flu each year, leading to 200,000 hospitalizations, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends everyone six months and older receive an annual flu shot.