Flu vaccine manufacturers face steep odds

As flu season approaches, vaccines companies are working against the odds to market their influenza vaccines. Last year, the overall U.S. vaccination rate was about 42%--a far cry from the target rates of 80% for people ages 6 months to 65 years and 90% for those older than 65.

Vaccination rates ran the gamut in the 2011-2012 influenza season. For children between 6 months and 23 months, it was 75%, while just over a third of adolescents received the jab, according to the CDC. About 39% of adults were vaccinated, Reuters reports.

This year, a total of 135 million doses of influenza vaccine will be on hand, the nonprofit National Foundation for Infectious Diseases said. As of Sept. 14, more than 85 million doses of the vaccine had been distributed.

"When it comes to flu, we can't look to the past to predict the future," Howard Koh, assistant health secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news conference, as quoted by Reuters.

FDA green-lighted influenza vaccines from all 6 manufacturers licensed to produce and distribute in the U.S. back in August. This year's dose includes one strain in common with last year's and two new ones. But judging by vaccination rates from the previous flu season, the manufacturers--CSL, GlaxosmithKline ($GSK), ID Biomedical, AstraZeneca's ($AZN) MedImmune, Novartis ($NVS) and Sanofi Pasteur--will all be hoping for a change of pace. Factors preventing people from getting the shot include fear that they will get sick from the vaccine, cost and lack of awareness, Koh said.

- get more from Reuters

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