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H1N1 Protection in Coming Season's Flu Vaccines: FDA

FRIDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- The flu vaccines approved for the 2010-11 season protect against three strains of influenza, including the 2009 H1N1 pandemic swine flu strain, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Friday.

Because the 2009 H1N1 virus emerged after production had started on last year's seasonal flu vaccine, two separate vaccines were needed last season to protect against seasonal flu and the 2009 H1N1 virus.

This year, people will require only one vaccine, the FDA said.

Each year, experts from the World Health Organization, the FDA, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions analyze flu virus samples and patterns collected worldwide in order to determine which strains are most likely to cause illness during the upcoming season.

The vaccines for the 2010-11 flu season contain the following strains:

  • 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.

There is always a chance that viral strains other than those predicted to circulate will cause the most illnesses in a flu season, the FDA said. However, even if there's not an exact match between the vaccine and the circulating virus strains, the vaccine may help reduce the severity of the illness or help prevent flu-related complications.

"The best way to protect yourself and your family against influenza is to get vaccinated every year," Dr. Karen Midthun, acting director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in an agency news release. "The availability of a new seasonal influenza vaccine each year is an important tool in the prevention of influenza-related illness and death."

The brand names of vaccines for the upcoming flu season are: Afluria, Agriflu, Fluarix, FluLaval, FluMist, Fluvirin, Fluzone, and Fluzone High-Dose.

In a separate news release, officials at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminded Americans that the agency expanded its 2010-11 influenza vaccination recommendations in a vote early this year.

Prior guidelines had focused on certain high-risk groups, such as children and people with underlying health conditions, but for the coming season, the CDC recommends that all people over 6 months of age get the annual flu vaccine.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers flu prevention tips.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCES: U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news releases, July 30, 2010

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