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2016-2017 Flu Season: Is There Anything New About This Year's Vaccine?


Stephen Redd, MD (RADM, USPHS), Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), discusses the 2016-2017 flu vaccine.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“Every year there is a decision process to decide what strains of influenza viruses go into the vaccine. For the Northern hemisphere, this takes place in the January-February timeframe. Every year there is an H1N1 strain and an H3N2 strain [put into the vaccine] and those are both influenza A viruses. Then, depending on whether the vaccine covers four strains or three strains, there is one influenza B virus used [as well] or in the case of a four-strain vaccine, [they add] two different strains of [influenza] B.
That’s a decision that’s made every year [and] there’s actually a decision in a few weeks that will be made for the Southern hemisphere for their winter season which is our next summer. Every year there’s this process of updating the influenza vaccine to be the viruses that are projected to be most likely to be circulating that coming year.

I don’t think there’s anything especially unique [about the vaccines this year]. I think the one thing that a little bit different is that some of the vaccines contain three strains and some of them contain four strains and if you get the four strain vaccine, you’re being covered for two [influenza] B viruses and if you get the three strain [you’re only covered] for one [influenza] B virus."
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Influenza A (H3N2) has caused most of the illnesses in this severe flu season, but influenza B is becoming increasingly responsible for more infections as the flu season continues to hit the United States.