The FDA approved this year’s (2010-2011) flu vaccine for the US. This year’s shot will protect folks from 3 strains of influenza including the pandemic strain from last year. The technical terms for the strains in this year’s shot are the “A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus (i.e. pandemic virus”; the “A/Perth /16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus”; and the “B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus”. For the first time, the CDC is recommending that everybody over 6 months old get a seasonal flu shot. The supply of vaccine should be robust- as there are now 13 brand names and manufacturers for this year’s vaccine, so if there is a problem with one of the suppliers (as was the case in 2004) it’s unlikely to create a major supply disruption. You can read more in the FDA’s announcement this week.
Last week, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that doctors avoid using the flu vaccine made by CSL Biotherapies (an Australian company) for kids under 8 years old because of unexplained fevers in kids that got the vaccine over the last several months in Australia and New Zealand.
The pandemic flu strain (A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus) pretty much completely displaced the H3N2 strain last flu season in North America. However, the flu outbreaks that have occurred this summer (at summer camps, day care centers and sports camps and the like) have mostly been the A/Perth/16/2009-like H3N2 virus. Both strains are included in this year’s seasonal flu shot.