Sanofi Pasteur announced last week that its first doses of Fluzone® (Influenza Vaccine) for the 2015-2016 influenza (“flu”) season have been released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for shipment. This represents the first of more than 65 million total doses of seasonal influenza vaccine manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur that will be delivered to U.S. health care providers and pharmacies beginning in July and continuing throughout the 2015-2016 flu season.

generic influenza virion
3D influenza/CDC

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the single best way to prevent influenza is to get an annual vaccination, which is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exception.i,ii In fact, during the 2013-2014 season, the CDC estimated influenza vaccination prevented 7.2 million influenza-associated illnesses, 3.1 million medically attended illnesses, and 90,000 hospitalizations.iii

“Influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread and can lead to severe complications involving the heart, lung, endocrine and other organ systems, potentially leading to death,” said David P. Greenberg, M.D., Vice President, Scientific & Medical Affairs, and Chief Medical Officer, Sanofi Pasteur U.S. “Vaccination is important for high-risk age groups, including children and older adults. For older adults, vaccination is particularly important given their susceptibility to influenza and its complications due to an age-related weakening of the immune system.”

Sanofi Pasteur will supply a wide portfolio of Fluzone influenza vaccine options this season to meet the immunization needs of multiple age groups, from children as young as six months of age through adults 65 years of age and older:

  • Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is specially formulated for adults 65 years of age and older. As people age, the immune system weakens, which can put older adults at risk for influenza-related complications.iv Clinical data demonstrated that Fluzone High-Dose vaccine was 24.2 percent more effective than Fluzone vaccine in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza caused by any influenza viral type or subtype in association with influenza-like illness, in adults 65 years of age and older.v
  • Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent vaccine, licensed by the FDA in 2014 for adults 18 through 64 years of age, will be available for the first time this influenza season. Fluzone Intradermal Quadrivalent vaccine offers four-strain protection in a microinjection system that is convenient, efficient, and easy to use, allowing for streamlined administration by health care providers. The vaccine is administered directly into the skin through a 90 percent smaller, 1.5 mm microneedle. As the skin has a high concentration of immune cells, an intradermal vaccine is able to use the skin’s natural defenses to induce a robust immune response. In addition, the microinjection system is ideal for vaccine administrators, since it has a pre-affixed needle and an integrated needle shield.
  • Fluzone Quadrivalent vaccine helps protect against four influenza strains (two A strains and two B strains), in contrast to trivalent influenza vaccines, which help protect against three strains (two A strains and only one B strain). The influenza B strain is associated with high hospitalization and mortality rates, especially in children and young adults. In fact, on average, over multiple recent seasons, 34 percent of influenza-related deaths in children up to 18 years of age were due to influenza Fluzone Quadrivalent vaccine is licensed for use in people six months of age and older.
  • Fluzone vaccine, a trivalent influenza vaccine that protects against three influenza strains, is approved for use in people six months of age and older.

“Sanofi Pasteur is committed to helping people fight influenza by offering a broad range of vaccines for patients across multiple age groups,” added Dr. Greenberg. “Patients should speak to their health care providers to determine which influenza vaccine option is most appropriate.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the 2015-2016 influenza vaccine is made to protect against the following three viruses:

  • an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus
  • an A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2)-like virus
  • a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus. (This is a B/Yamagata lineage virus)

Some of the 2015-2016 flu vaccine is quadrivalent vaccine and also protects against an additional B virus (B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus). This is a B/Victoria lineage virus.