Sanofi pasteur, the vaccines division of the sanofi-aventis Group, has begun shipment of influenza vaccine (Fluzone, Influenza Virus Vaccine) in the United States for the 2007-2008 season.
The first doses of influenza vaccine are being shipped to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for their distribution in support of the Vaccines For Children (VFC) program and to many other health-care providers including private physicians' offices. This shipment represents the first of approximately 50 million doses planned for production this year.
Sanofi pasteur will begin partial shipments to customers in August as part of the company's split delivery process, which will allow all customers to begin immunizing patients. Vaccine shipments will continue through the fall and are planned to be complete by the end of October.
Each year, sanofi pasteur provides vaccine to hospitals and other health- care facilities; private office-based providers; retail pharmacies; community immunization providers; and to the military, veterans and children through providers' private and public vaccination programs.
As the world's leading vaccine manufacturer, sanofi pasteur produces approximately half of the influenza vaccine distributed worldwide and more than 40 percent of influenza vaccine distributed in the U.S. Sanofi pasteur is committed to raising immunization rates and improving global access to vaccines. As part of this commitment, the company is expanding its influenza vaccine production facility in the United States. This expansion, slated to come on-line by the end of 2008 or in early 2009, will more than double U.S. production capacity.
While influenza vaccination typically begins in early fall, CDC data demonstrate that influenza rates typically peak in February, making it important for people to seek influenza immunization throughout the full influenza season. The CDC recommends that health-care providers begin offering vaccination soon after vaccine becomes available, and continue vaccination efforts throughout the season.
The CDC recommends influenza immunization for all persons who want to reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting the virus to others, including school-aged children. Annual vaccination is especially important for children 6 through 59 months of age, persons aged 50 years and older, pregnant women and anyone 6 months and older with a chronic medical condition, such as asthma and diabetes. The vaccine also is recommended for persons who live with or care for persons at high risk, including household contacts and health-care workers.
Fluzone vaccine is the only influenza vaccine licensed for populations 6 months and older. A Fluzone vaccine formulation (trade name: Fluzone(R), Influenza Virus Vaccine, No Preservative) that does not contain a preservative at any stage in the manufacturing process was introduced in 2004-2005. It is the first FDA-licensed injectable influenza vaccine to be manufactured in this way.
The 2007-2008 influenza vaccine formulation contains an A/Solomon Islands/3/2006 (H1N1)-like virus; an A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2)-like virus; and a B/Malaysia/2506/2004-like virus. The three strains for the new influenza vaccine formulation were confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee in February 2007 and correspond with recommendations made by the World Health Organization in February. Influenza vaccine is formulated each year to match the strains predicted to circulate during the upcoming season.
There are risks associated with all vaccines. The most common local and systemic adverse reactions to Fluzone vaccine include soreness at the vaccination site that can last up to 2 days, pain, and swelling, fever, malaise, and myalgia. Other adverse reactions may occur. Influenza vaccine should not be administered to anyone with a history of hypersensitivity to any vaccine component, including eggs, egg products, or thimerosal (the only presentation that contains thimerosal is the multi-dose vial). Fluzone vaccine should not be administered to individuals who have a prior history of Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS). As with any vaccine, vaccination with Fluzone vaccine may not protect 100% of individuals.