FDA approves 6 flu vaccines

The FDA green-lighted influenza vaccines from all 6 vaccine manufacturers licensed to produce and distribute in the U.S., making way for the 2012-2013 flu season.

The products from the big 6--CSL, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), ID Biomedical, AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune, Novartis ($NVS) and Sanofi Pasteur--will include strains for A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus and B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus. The H1N1 virus matches what manufacturers included during the last season, but the H3N2 and B viruses differ.

Sometimes the virus strains predicted to circulate and those that actually make the rounds don't line up. But even if the vaccines and circulating strains aren't identical, the vaccines can reduce the severity of the illness or help prevent influenza-related complications, according to an FDA release.

"The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year," said Karen Midthun, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. "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."

Seasonal influenza kills more than 36,000 people and hospitalizes 200,000 more each year in the United States, according to National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

- see the release
- here's more from the Associated Press

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