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FDA gives OK to flu vaccine, same as last season's

July 20, 2011|By Marissa Cevallos, HealthKey / For the Booster Shots blog
  • The FDA said that even though the flu vaccine for the upcoming season would protect against the same three strains as last flu season, people who got shots last year should get a new one.
The FDA said that even though the flu vaccine for the upcoming season would… (Jim R. Bounds / Bloomberg )

The flu vaccine for the upcoming season should trigger some déjà vu: The formulation will be identical to last year’s, the Food and Drug Administration has announced.

But even though this season’s vaccine is a repeat, providing protection against H1N1 and two other strains of the flu, the agency said people who got shots or nasal sprays last year shouldn’t skip this year’s version.

Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research Karen Midthun said in a news release: “It is important to get vaccinated every year, even if the strains in the vaccine do not change, because the protection received the previous year will diminish over time and may be too low to provide protection into the next year.”

Plus, one thing will be new about the latest influenza vaccine — and it’s sure to please the needle-phobic crowd. A new type of shot that is injected into the skin, not the muscle, uses a fine needle that is 90% smaller than needles normally used for flu shots. The vaccine, called Fluzone Intradermal, was approved in May for adults 18 through 64 and uses less antigen to build immunity. 

The intradermal and the five other approved vaccines this year protect against three strains: the influenza A strains H1N1 (known as swine flu) and H3N2 and an influenza B strain. Health officials recommend the seasonal vaccine to everyone over 6 months of age — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breaks down the advice for different groups, such as children, pregnant women and those at risk for flu complications.

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