New quadrivalent influenza vaccine now available
The UK is the first European country to have access to Sanofi Pasteur’s new quadrivalent influenza vaccine.
Currently, the majority of seasonal influenza vaccines are trivalent, protecting against three strains of influenza virus: two A strains and one single B strain. However, over the recent flu seasons, co-circulation of two B strains has been consistently observed. For example, in 2015 92% of documented B strain-related cases of influenza reported in Europe were caused by a B strain which was not included in the available trivalent vaccines during that season. The quadrivalent influenza vaccines include both B strains. By adding protection against the additional B strain, these vaccines help address the unpredictable nature of B strain circulation, thus broadening protection against influenza.
Dr Ian Gray, Medical Head, Sanofi Pasteur UK & Ireland said, “Flu is an unpredictable virus which can lead to serious complications, hospitalisation, and in some cases even fatalities, especially for those in at risk patient groups and in particular those above 65 years as well as those with chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease and diabetes. The UK authorities are leading the way in Europe by encouraging those in at risk groups to get vaccinated against flu. Sanofi Pasteur fully supports such immunisation policies by developing innovative vaccines that fit with the influenza epidemiology, providing the option for broad protection for those aged 3 years and older.
WHO includes quadrivalent influenza vaccines in its recommendations, stating that they could potentially provide wider protection against influenza B viruses. Worldwide, annual influenza epidemics result in three to five million cases of severe illness, and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths. In the UK, deaths attributable to flu are estimated to range from around 4000 to 14,000 per year, with an average of around 8000 per year.