Influenza vaccine manufacturers are beginning to send out their supplies for the upcoming 2020-21 season. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine every season.
Most flu cases in the US occur from October through May, with cases usually peaking between December and February.
This year, however, is a very different year from any other year with regards to the influenza vaccine. With coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)
so prevalent in the US, the idea of having 2 active viruses hitting the country is daunting.
In a recent interview, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), was asked about the combination of the upcoming influenza season with COVID-19.
“If we get anything that resembles a typical influenza season, there will be complications and confounding," Fauci said. "You have two cocirculating respiratory diseases and it makes it more complicated.”
He postulated getting a vaccination for influenza, could possibly mitigate 1 of the 2 viruses.
In addition, the CDC has repeatedly emphasized the importance of influenza vaccination this flu season to help reduce the burden of disease and the impact of influenza on the healthcare system and other critical infrastructures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the 2020-21 flu season, the World Health Organization and FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee recommended including the A/Guangdong-Maonan/SWL1536/2019 (H1N1) pdm09-like virus, A/HongKong/2671/2019 (H3N2)-like virus, B/Washington/02/2019- like virus (B/Victoria lineage), with the addition of B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (B/Yamagata lineage) virus for the quadrivalent vaccine.
With a greater public health interest in the vaccine, influenza vaccine manufacturers are beginning to send out their supplies.
Summit, NJ-based Seqirus announced on Thursday it could supply up to 60 million doses.
“Our healthcare system is facing an unprecedented public health crisis with COVID-19, and we are proud to provide healthcare providers and their patients with a broad range of influenza vaccine options as early as possible to help protect against influenza and help lessen the overall burden on our healthcare system,” Dave Ross, vice president, North America Commercial Operations, Seqirus said.
GSK announced last week it had also started shipping its quadrivalent influenza vaccines to US healthcare providers and pharmacies. They expect to supply more than 50 million doses of its influenza vaccines for the US market in the 2020-21 season, an increase from the 46 million it distributed during the 2019-20 influenza season.
“The flu is a serious and unpredictable disease that causes tens of millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths in the US each year,” Judy Stewart, senior vice president, US Vaccines said. “GSK is looking at every opportunity to produce and distribute additional flu vaccines this upcoming season to meet anticipated demand. We are working closely with public health partners to improve flu immunization rates to reduce the spread of disease and burden on the healthcare system during the ongoing public health challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
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