Flu vaccine producers ready for 2012-2013 season

The three major influenza vaccine producers have started shipping the first vaccine doses for the 2012-2013 flu season to the U.S. market.

The vaccines contain new components for H3N2 and influenza B. Some producers are in the process of developing quadrivalent vaccines with protection from both influenza B lineages, but they are not expected to be ready in time for the upcoming flu season, according to CIDRAP News.

Collectively, the vaccine makers projected that they will produce up to 149 million doses for the 2012-2013 season in the United States.

GlaxoSmithKline recently announced that its first lots of FluLaval and Fluvarix are headed to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention distribution centers from where they will be shipped to local healthcare providers. Sanofi Pasteur and Novartis made similar announcements within the past two weeks, CIDRAP News reports.

Sanofi's announcement said that the company plans to deliver more than 60 million doses of its vaccine Fluzone. In addition to a standard intramuscular injectable version of Fluzone, Sanofi produces a high-dose version for seniors and an intradermal version for ages 18 to 64.

"With the confidence of early vaccine delivery, healthcare providers can start immunizing sooner and commit to scheduling immunization clinics throughout the season," Chad Hoover, Sanofi's vice president and chief commercial officer, said, CIDRAP News reports.