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It's Still Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Vaccine_0214

www.fda.gov/consumer

It’s Still Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Vaccine

M

eant to get vaccinated in the fall to ward off the flu, but somehow didn’t

get around to it? Think it’s too late to get vaccinated now?

Not so. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vacci-nations can be protective as long as flu viruses are circulating. And while seasonal flu outbreaks can happen as early as October, flu activity usually peaks in January or February, and can last well into May.

FDA plays a key role in ensuring that safe and effective influenza vac-cines are available every flu season. In fact, the task of producing a new vac-cine for the next flu season starts well before the current flu season ends. For FDA, it’s a year-round initiative.

Why a new vaccine?

According to Marion Gruber, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review, there are sev-eral reasons that new vaccines must be manufactured each year.

“Influenza viruses can change from year to year, due to different subtypes and strains that circulate each year,” says Gruber. A vaccine is needed that includes virus strains that most closely match those in circulation, and the protection provided by the previous year’s vaccine will dimin-ish over time.

Identifying Likely Virus Strains

Each February, before that year’s flu

season ends, FDA, the World Health Organization (www.who.int/influenza/en/), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health experts collaborate on collecting and reviewing data from around the world to identify the flu viruses likely to cause the most ill-nesses in the next flu season. Based on that information and the recom-mendations of an FDA advisory com-mittee, the agency selects the virus strains for FDA-licensed manufactur-ers to include in their vaccines for use in the United States.

“The closer the match between the circulating strains causing dis-ease and the virus strains in the vac-cine, the better the protection against influenza,” Gruber says.

In addition, FDA inspects the man-ufacturing facilities on a regular basis, and prepares and provides reagents (necessary test components

FEBRUARY 2014

1 / FDA Consumer Health Information / U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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