Good news for people who grew tired of trying to track down both H1N1 and seasonal flu shots last year: Federal and global health officials have recommended that the seasonal flu vaccine that’ll be used in the United States this fall include the H1N1 strain that sickened so many. That means adults should only need to get one flu shot next season instead of two. (One-stop shopping!)
Each year, the World Health Organization advises vaccine manufacturers on what to include in the seasonal flu vaccine by looking at what strains are circulating and are likely to make people sick. The health agency usually makes its decision in February (aka, now) for the Northern Hemisphere to give the manufacturers time to produce flu shots. (The recommendation for the Southern Hemisphere, which has its flu season at a different time, will come later.)
Here in the United States, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee backed the WHO recommendation for the vaccine formula this week. The recommendation is that it will be a trivalent vaccine, meaning it’s aimed at three viruses: an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus, a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus and an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus.
While it’s good news that the seasonal flu vaccine targets the H1N1 strain, it also means that the H1N1 pandemic flu is here to stay. According to WHO statistics, there have been over 16,000 deaths worldwide attributed to the H1N1 pandemic, which is still ongoing. Remember, even if you received one or both flu shots last year, you still need the vaccination again this fall. So get ready for the flu and get your vaccinations when they become available.