Today, BIO offered seasonal flu vaccines to all employees, many of whom joined me in getting one. While getting vaccinated against seasonal flu is important, it will not protect us from H1N1 flu so we were advised to get vaccinated against that once it is available.
BIO member companies have played a major role in the development and distribution of both the seasonal influenza vaccination and the H1N1 vaccination. Five BIO member companies are at the forefront of development of the novel H1N1 vaccine that is being distributed. The manufacturers include Sanofi-Pasteur (part of Sanofi-Aventis), GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, CSL Behring and MedImmune (part of Astra Zeneca). The first four manufacturers make the inactivated influenza vaccine available in syringes and multi-dose vials. The last company, MedImmune, produces the live-attenuated vaccine available in a nasal spray.
These vaccine companies have mounted a herculean effort – moving from identification and agreement on the proper vaccine strain to production of a vaccine in 24 weeks. In addition, they successfully produced and distributed the seasonal, annual flu vaccine early in order to help further mitigate the impact of influenza on the healthcare system. Four vaccines have received FDA approval and clinical trials are mostly complete, although some limited data is anticipated in mid-October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will review its recommendations and implementation plans for the vaccine later this month and reinforce the importance of both seasonal and H1N1 vaccination. Doses have begun to arrive in healthcare sites around the country with millions more expected by the middle of October.
You can find more information on the CDC website and a Health and Human Services website including a Q&A on H1N1, vaccine recommendations, flu activity within the U.S. and video public service announcements on the flu.