FDA Approves Seasonal Influenza Vaccine

FDA officials approved vaccine for the 2009-2010 seasonal influenza in the United States.

“The approval of this year’s seasonal influenza vaccine is an example of the FDA’s important responsibility to assure timely availability of vaccine to help protect the health of the American public,” Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, FDA commissioner, said in a press release. “A new seasonal influenza vaccine each year is a critical tool in protecting public health,” Pediatric SuperSite reports.

The FDA said it approved six vaccines, with two being made by GlaxoSmithKline PLC units. The other vaccines are made by U.S. units of Sanofi Aventis SA and AstraZeneca PLC, which makes a flu mist rather than a shot. The remaining approved vaccines are made by Novartis AG and CSL Ltd.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 20% of the U.S. population develops influenza each year. More than 200,000 are hospitalized from its complications and about 36,000 people die.

Health officials have said there is a “striking difference” between the H1N1 flu and the seasonal flu, with the new virus disproportionately affecting children and young adults rather than adults age 65 and older. Officials are planning for an H1N1 vaccination campaign aimed at school-age children.

Manufacturing for the 2009-2010 seasonal influenza vaccines had already started before the H1N1 virus was discovered in April, The Wall Street Journal reports.

This year's inoculation, the FDA stressed, won't protect against the H1N1 swine flu, which was declared pandemic by the WHO last month. Scientists and manufacturers are working on a separate vaccine for swine flu, the agency said in a news release, U.S. News & World Report reports.