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Don't Skip This Year's Flu Shot: CDC

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The 2011-12 flu vaccine protects against seasonal flu and H1N1, just like last year's, but that doesn't mean it's OK to skip your yearly flu shot, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn.

"All people aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated," said Dr. Carolyn Bridges, an associate director for adult immunization at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Protection wanes over the course of a year, so "even people who got a flu vaccine last year should get one again to make sure they are optimally protected," she said.

The new recommendations are published in the Aug. 18 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The fact that the vaccines are identical does change things slightly for children aged 6 months to 8 years. In general, children in this age range should get two doses of the flu shot administered at least four weeks apart, but they will only need one dose of the 2011-2012 vaccine if they received at least one dose in 2010-2011.

Children in that age range who did not get the flu vaccine last year need two doses this season.

The vaccine formulation was recommended by the World Health Organization, and six manufacturers have been chosen to produce and distribute the vaccines for the United States.

The brand names and manufacturers of the vaccines are: Afluria, CSL Limited; Fluarix, GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals; FluLaval, ID Biomedical Corporation; FluMist, MedImmune Vaccines Inc.; Fluvirin, Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited; and Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Intradermal, Sanofi Pasteur Inc.

New this year is an intradermal flu vaccine, Fluzone Intradermal, which will be available for adults aged 18 through 64 years. This vaccine is delivered into the skin, rather than the muscle, using a very small needle, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved it in May.

Last month, the CDC said the targeted flu strains for 2011-2012 are:

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

Dr. Lisa Grohskopf, an epidemiologist at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stressed the importance of getting the 2011-2012 flu vaccine. "If we are looking on an individual basis, we can't tell how quickly antibodies will decay after the vaccine, but we do know that immune response will drop over the course of a year," she said. "You can't count on that vaccine protecting you for a second season."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the 2011-2012 flu vaccine.

SOURCES: Lisa Grohskopf, M.D., M.P.H., epidemiologist, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Carolyn Bridges, M.D., associate director, adult immunization, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Aug. 18, 2011, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

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