MedImmune begins FluMist distribution

MedImmune recently announced that it is shipping FluMist, an intranasal trivalent influenza vaccine, to distributors in time for the 2012-2013 flu season.

The Maryland-based MedImmune, the global biologics arm of AstraZeneca, expects high demand for the vaccine and is providing approximately 13 million FluMist doses to healthcare centers, public health departments, military bases and retail pharmacies.

"MedImmune is committed to continuing its collaboration with providers and the public health community to immunize eligible preschool- and school-age children, adolescents and adults up to age 49 against the flu as early as possible each year," Dr. Chris Ambrose, MedImmune's senior director of medical and scientific affairs, said. "Vaccination with FluMist can help protect against the flu throughout the influenza season into late spring."

FluMist is a trivalent vaccine that will protect against the three strains of flu that are expected to be prevalent this season according to a recommendation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including protection against the 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain.

The vaccine has been approved for use by individuals between the ages of two and 49. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone six months or older be vaccinated against the flu every year.

The CDC recently announced that flu activity has already started to increase this year. Eight U.S. states are reporting widespread infections.

"Increasing flu activity should be a wake-up call," Dr. Melinda Wharton, the acting director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said. "For anyone who has put off vaccination: It's time to get your flu vaccine now."

FluMist is covered by nearly 99 percent of private health plans that include immunizations. The vaccine will also be available for children in every state through the federally-funded Vaccines for Children program that administers vaccines to eligible children at no cost.