Just as our influenza season winds down (and it is), it’s time to plan for the next one. Every February the World Health Organization convenes a panel of experts to look at the most current data on the circulating flu strains from around the world and makes recommendations for the next season’s Northern Hemisphere flu vaccine. At this week’s meeting in Geneva, the group recommended changing a B component of the vaccine, but sticking with the A/H3N2 and A/H1N1 components for next year.
It may seem too early to be thinking about next year’s flu vaccine, but planning in February allows time for vaccine companies to grow the viruses and process the vaccine. The vaccine-making process still takes about 6 months… so it’s important to start as early as possible to ensure that vaccine is available for the start of the next flu season. Getting vaccinated against the flu every year is important, especially because the vaccine strains can change from year to year, as will happen for the 2013-2014 season.