FDA Announces This Year's Flu Vaccine

The vaccine protects against one strain from last year, plus two new strains.

Flu shot, influenza, H1N1 virus

This year's flu shot will protect against three common strains of the influenza virus, the FDA says. (Photo: Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images)

Jeannine Stein, a California native, wrote about health for the Los Angeles Times. In her pursuit of a healthy lifestyle she has taken countless fitness classes, hiked in Nepal and got in a boxing ring.

We still may be in bathing suit weather, but flu season will be here before we know it. The Food and Drug Administration announced its approved vaccine formula today that covers three strains of influenza.

Strains to be covered in the 2012-2013 vaccine are the A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, the A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus and the B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus. The H1N1 virus was also included in last year’s vaccine, but other two were not.

The three were chosen, according to an FDA news release, because they’re the ones most likely to be circulating during flu season. Although the agency says that it’s not always a perfect match between vaccine and strain, the vaccine may still help decrease symptoms and complications.

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“The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year,” said Dr. Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the release. “It is especially important to get vaccinated this year because two of the three virus strains used in this season’s influenza vaccines differ from the strains included in last year’s vaccines.”

Although the severity of each flu season can’t be predicted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 5 percent to 20 percent of the country comes down with the virus each year, and that can mean more than 200,000 hospitalizations.

Those most vulnerable to catching the flu, according to the CDC, are children under the age of 5, over the age of 65, and pregnant women. Also, those with medical conditions such as asthma, a weakened immune system or a kidney disorder may be more vulnerable as well. 

Do you plan on getting a flu shot this year? Let us know in the comments.

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