FDA approves new 4-strain flu vaccine

June 25, 2013

The United States Food and Drug Administration approved a new quadrivalent version of a flu vaccine. At present, it is the only quadrivalent vaccine available for children as young as 6 months.

 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new quadrivalent version of a flu vaccine. At present, it is the only quadrivalent vaccine available for children as young as 6 months.

In time for it to be available for the 2013-2014 flu season, the FDA approved a new quadrivalent version of Fluzone (Sanofi SA). Although not the only quadrivalent vaccine on the market, it is the only one appropriate for everyone age 6 months and older.

Fluariz Quadrivalent made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc received FDA approval earlier this year and is also slated to make its debut in the upcoming flu season, but it is approved for adults and children age 3 years and older. FluMist, made by MedImmune, is another quadrivalent vaccine that is available. It is administered via inhalation and is indicated for adults and children age 2 years and older.

Traditional 3-strain vaccines protect against 2 strains of influenza A and 1 strain of influenza B. The newer quadrivalent vaccines protect against 2 strains of each. This was prompted by the fact that in recent years predictions about which influenza B strains would cause infection were missing the mark.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about three-quarters of the influenza cases in the 2012-2013 season were caused by influenza A strains and about one-quarter was caused by influenza B strains. However, among the 149 laboratory-confirmed, influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported during the 2012-2013 flu season, more than three-quarters were associated with influenza B viruses.

The CDC recommends flu vaccination for everyone 6 months of age and older.