Novartis Vaccines begins shipment of seasonal influenza vaccine

August 17, 2010

Novartis Vaccines has started shipping the FDA-approved seasonal influenza vaccine Fluvirin to U.S. customers ahead of the 2010&endash;2011 season, allowing healthcare practitioners to initiate protection of their patients well in advance.

Novartis Vaccines has started shipping the FDA-approved seasonal influenza vaccine Fluvirin to U.S. customers ahead of the 2010–2011 season, allowing healthcare practitioners to initiate protection of their patients well in advance.

Fluvirin vaccine contains antigens to the 3 influenza virus strains for this year’s vaccine recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) - A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus, and B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus. The WHO recommended that the seasonal influenza vaccine include A(H1N1), represented by A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, the pandemic flu strain that sickened millions in 2009–2010. Individuals will be able to receive a single flu vaccination to protect against all major circulating flu viruses. The unexpected emergence of the A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) strain last year prevented it from being included in the 2009–2010 seasonal influenza vaccine.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Novartis Vaccines plans to supply the U.S. market with approximately 40 million doses of Fluvirin for patients 4 years of age and older, and it will be available in both prefilled syringes and multidose vials.

“As part of our commitment to influenza protection, we accelerated our manufacturing timeline and increased supply in an effort to ensure physicians and public health officials are equipped to respond to greater demand for vaccines,” said Andrin Oswald, division head of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics. “Early vaccine delivery will ensure healthcare providers can protect as many individuals as possible against influenza, including those most at risk.”

An estimated 36,000 people in the United States die each year from the flu and its complications and another 200,000 are hospitalized.

Beginning with the 2010–2011 season, CDC is recommending influenza vaccinations for individuals age 6 months and older. Previously, CDC recommended vaccination of high-risk individuals, including children of 6 months through 18 years of age, individuals 50 years of age and older, adults at risk for medical complications from influenza, and close contacts of high-risk individuals. CDC recommends that children between 6 months and 9 years of age receiving a flu vaccine for the first time receive 2 doses separated by at least 4 weeks.