Flu shot giant Sanofi teams with American Lung Association on get-vaccinated message to U.S. seniors

Sanofi partnered with the American Lung Association to encourage vaccination for people 50 and older. (Sanofi on Flickr)

Sanofi's annual flu-shot mobilization is in full swing, and as tens of millions of doses fan out across the U.S., the company has teamed with the American Lung Association (ALA) to nudge Americans 50 and older toward the nearest vaccination clinic.

Their joint TV, radio and social campaign, dubbed MyShot, centers on a website, getmyshot.org, where visitors can take a flu quiz, use a finder tool to target nearby vaccination sites and learn more about influenza, especially its effects in older adults. The site features stories from people in their 50s, 60s and 70s to spotlight the dangers flu poses to people with chronic diseases and to nudge all Americans 50 and older toward getting a vaccine this season.

Besides its standard quadrivalent flu vaccines, which target four strains of the virus, the company markets Fluzone High-Dose especially for seniors. That shot contains four times the antigen of standard vaccines, and Sanofi will ship 22 million doses to the U.S. this season. Sanofi also boasts a next-gen offering—the recombinant protein-based vaccine Flublok—with 3 million doses of that product on tap. All told, 70 million Sanofi flu shots are destined for the U.S.

Speaking with FiercePharma, Sanofi Pasteur North American regional medical head David Greenberg, M.D., said flu vaccines are “extremely important” and the “best prevention that’s available” against infection, despite efficacy concerns in recent years.     

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Sanofi launched Fluzone High-Dose in the 2010-2011 flu season and now has clinical data from randomized trials—plus real-world data from nursing homes, the FDA, the CDC and more—showing that the vaccine is more effective than standard shots, Greenberg said.

Last year, flu vaccine manufacturers shipped 155 million doses to the U.S., according to the CDC. During the season, vaccines were 40% effective overall, but only 20% effective for seniors. After the season, the FDA analyzed data from 13 million Medicare beneficiaries and found that Sanofi’s Fluzone HD and Seqirus cell-based Flucelvax performed best for seniors at reducing illnesses.

Flublok, for its part, is a newer addition to Sanofi Pasteur's portfolio, picked up in its $650 million deal for Protein Sciences last year. It's made in insect cells rather than eggs, and since the acquisition, Sanofi has worked to increase production capacity by “over 10-fold" to 3 million doses, Greenberg said. Last season, Protein Sciences distributed fewer than 300,000 doses of the vaccine, the executive said. 

And looking ahead, the company is aiming "to increase the production of Flublok even beyond the big increase that we’ve had this year,” Greenberg said.