More flu vaccine expected this year
August 18th, 2011
06:42 PM ET

More flu vaccine expected this year

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention anticipate more doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine will be available during this year's flu season compared to last year's.

"We are anticipating 166 million or so are likely to be produced this year, compared to 157 million last year," said Dr. Carolyn Bridges, the Associate Director for Adult Immunization with the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease.

However, recommendations for who should be vaccinated remain the same. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices says all Americans older than six months of age should be vaccinated against the flu every year. The vaccine is typically offered as a single dose. Only young children between the age of six months and eight years old who have never been vaccinated against the flu, or whose vaccination status is unknown, require a second dose of the vaccine four weeks later, known as a booster.

This year people aged 65 and older may opt for a new, high dose form of the flu vaccine, known as Fluzone High-Dose. Although it will be available during the 2011 – 2012 influenza season, the CDC's Advisory Committee has not issued a formal recommendation that Fluzone High-Dose be used by older patients since it is relatively new and data about its efficacy is still being collected.

This season's vaccine is composed of the same influenza strains as last year's vaccine, including the 2009 H1N1 strain.  Bridges estimates that 41% of American adults were vaccinated last year, including 63.5% of all health care professionals and 49% of pregnant women.

In a call with reporters,  Bridges said making flu vaccinations convenient for health care personnel was a "key strategy" in increasing the amount of vaccine coverage of that population. She also said data from last year showed pregnant women were five times more likely to choose to be vaccinated if the vaccine was recommended by their doctor.

The CDC says the influenza vaccine should be readily available around the country by September. Flu season typically lasts from October to May of the following year. To learn more about influenza or to find where there are flu vaccines in your area, check out www.cdc.gov/flu.

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