Friday, October 26, 2007

New flu vaccine means there will be plenty of shots this year

Good news! The Food and Drug Administration has approved another seasonal flu vaccine! Why is that good news? Because it means we will have plenty of flu vaccine to go around. In fact, the United States is expected to have a record supply of flu vaccine this year.

This is important because not too long ago, during the 2004 to 2005 flu season, there was a flu vaccine shortage in the United States. In response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped saying that everyone should get a flu shot and started saying "wait, not you." People started to doubt whether getting a flu shot was all that important, even though it really is. Each year, 36,000 people die and 200,000 are hospitalized as a result of seasonal flu.

In recent years, public education campaigns have called for everyone to get vaccinated. It's just good common sense and good public health. Now, with a record supply of flu vaccine expected, we can say "everyone should get a flu shot!"

One reason that we have the new vaccine to choose from this season is thanks to a special process at FDA that lets the agency "fast track" a drug review when the medication is really needed. The new vaccine, called Afluria, met that definition, so it was "fast-tracked" through FDA, and subsequently, to doctor's offices, health departments and flu vaccination clinics around the country. The new vaccine is just one kind that's available, so ask your health care provider which one is best for you.

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