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Improved vaccines mean flu immunization can start earlier

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The waning efficacy of flu vaccines has traditionally forced people to choose immunization dates carefully. Receive the vaccine too soon and you risk being unprotected at the end of the season; get it too late and you lack immunity if the virus arrives earlier than expected.

Improved vaccines have increased the margin for error, though. Whereas in the past, a vaccine given in August would offer little protection come February, new formulations are extending the period of immunity. Healthcare professionals have responded by adjusting the advice they give to their patients.

"Prior to this year, I was very much against getting flu shots this early. I told my patients to wait until mid-October so the coverage would last into late spring. But the vaccine now gives a good 6 months of protection. There's no reason to rush out and get it right this second, but it's fine if someone wants to," primary care physician Dr. Jennifer Preiss told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The big pharmacies have already begun promoting the availability of the flu vaccine. CVS/pharmacy accompanied its promotional release with data from a survey of 2,000 adults. The survey found that 59% of people view getting vaccinated as a "social responsibility," but less than half of those polled are more likely to get a flu shot this year because of last season's late outbreak. But those who decide to get vaccinated this year will have a new option--quadrivalent vaccines.

Having already won approval to sell one four-strain flu vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) last week secured FDA clearance for its multidose vial variant, FluLaval Quadrivalent. GSK will sell FluLaval alongside its prefilled syringe version, Fluarix. WRAL Tech Wire reports GSK expects to ship up to 10 million doses of Fluarix Quadrivalent in the U.S. this season.

- view the Post-Gazette item
- check out the CVS survey
- read the WRAL article
- here's PMLiVE's take

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