SWIFTWATER, Pa. — Sanofi Pasteur is shipping its first doses of Fluzone vaccines for the 2016-17 flu season following their release by the Food and Drug Administration.
Sanofi’s vaccines division said the shipment marks the start of more than 65 million doses of seasonal flu shots that it will deliver to U.S. health care providers and pharmacies beginning this month and continuing through the balance of the year. The company added that it plans to increase its supply to respond to the shifting pediatric public health needs.
Health providers that placed reservations with Sanofi Pasteur can expect to receive initial shipments between late July and early August for their fall immunization campaigns, Sanofi Pasteur said. The company’s flu vaccinations — meets immunization needs across the entire lifespan — include Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent and Fluzone High-Dose.
Fluzone Quadrivalent, given to people ages 6 months and older, helps protect against four influenza strains (two A strains and two B strains). For adults ages 18 to 64, Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent vaccine is administered directly into the skin using a 90% smaller, 1.5-mm microneedle and offers four-strain protection that allows for streamlined administration by health care providers.
Fluzone High-Dose, for seniors, contains four times the antigen content of Fluzone vaccine to help promote a stronger immune response. In the 2015-16 flu season, 50% of seniors vaccinated received Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, and that percentage is expected to rise to 60% in the coming season, according to Sanofi Pasteur.
“Sanofi Pasteur is at the forefront of influenza vaccine innovation,” stated David Greenberg, M.D., associate vice president and regional medical head for North America at Sanofi Pasteur. “Our legacy for researching and manufacturing influenza vaccines has existed for nearly 70 years at our Swiftwater-based facility, demonstrating our experience and commitment to this important public health need. We are dedicated to continuously improving our influenza vaccine options to ultimately help protect against influenza strains, including drifted strains that may occur in the future.”
Seasonal flu activity usually occurs between October and May and peaks between December and February. However, Sanofi Pasteur noted that flu seasons are always unpredictable, as in last season when flu activity peaked late, in early March 2016. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) typically recommends annual flu vaccinations for everyone six months of age and older and to receive the vaccine to build up immunity before the season begins.
“There is general awareness of influenza among the public given its widespread prevalence,” according to Greenberg. “What is not well known is that influenza can be life-threatening and have a lasting health impact, especially for the most vulnerable populations. In the 2014-15 season, the CDC estimated 40 million flu illnesses, 19 million flu-associated medical visits and almost 1 million flu-associated hospitalizations.”