WebMD Medical News
Daniel J. DeNoon
Louise Chang, MD
Feb. 18, 2010 - The
flu vaccine should be included in the 2010-2011 seasonal
flu vaccine for North America, the World Health Organization today
The FDA's vaccine advisory committee meets Monday and almost certainly will
accept the WHO recommendation. The CDC's vaccine advisory committee is just as
likely to accept the advice in a vote scheduled for Wednesday. The FDA will
issue a final ruling in time for vaccine manufacturers to gear up
Seasonal flu vaccines usually have three components, and the 2010-2011
vaccine is no exception. Three types of
flu bugs circulate in humans: H1N1 and H3N2 type A viruses, and type B
Scientists take their best guess as to which strains of each type to
include. It's not an exact science. In the time it takes to gear up vaccine
production, different strains of flu viruses sometimes become dominant.
At this time, the dominant H1N1 strain is definitely the 2009 H1N1 swine flu
bug. The dominant H3N2 virus is the so-called Perth strain of the virus, and
the dominant B virus is the so-called Brisbane strain.
"Even if [the old] seasonal H1N1 viruses persist, they will not pose a major
health risk to people," said WHO flu expert Keiji Fukuda, MD, in a news
conference. "The H3N2 and B viruses were persistent through the year, and in
some countries we've seen an increase in their activity. We feel these viruses
will continue to pose a significant public health risk and recommend they go
into the seasonal vaccine for the coming year."
Fukuda said the decision does not mean that the H1N1 pandemic is over.
Instead, he suggested, the world is transitioning to a "post-pandemic period"
in which there will be flare-ups or even new national outbreaks as the pandemic
"The ending of a pandemic is not an on-and-off phenomenon," he said. "It
does not happen overnight."
SOURCE:WHO news conference with Keiji Fukuda, MD, special adviser to the WHO
director-general on pandemic influenza, Feb. 18, 2010.
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