Four-Strain Influenza Vaccine Available this Flu Season in Public Health Programs

- Sixty-one per cent of Canadians surveyed say the availability of an influenza vaccine covering four strains instead of three would make them more likely to get vaccinated this flu season -

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 2015 /CNW/ - Public Health authorities in Canada are taking steps to enhance influenza vaccination programs this season by offering access to four-strain quadrivalent influenza vaccines (QIV), an important measure to help prevent B-strain mismatch and reduce the impact of influenza in the population.  

For almost four decades, influenza vaccines have covered three strains. These vaccines, known as trivalent influenza vaccines, or TIV, have offered protection against two influenza A strains and one B strain.1 However, in the 1980s, the B virus split into two distinct lineages (B/Victoria and B/Yamagata), which now co-circulate worldwide.2,3 As a result, between 2001 and 2013, there has been a mismatch between the influenza B strain in the vaccine and the circulating B strain more than 50 per cent of the time (seven out of 12 seasons).4 QIV can help protect against four different influenza virus strains, including the two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains.  

"A mismatch occurs when the predicted influenza strains in the vaccine are different from those circulating in the community; these mismatches can cause unexpected health implications," said Dr. Wayne Ghesquiere, Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine Consultant, Vancouver Island Health Authority, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of British Columbia. "The potential for a mismatch between the B lineages is the reason behind the development of QIV. QIV helps reduce the possibility of B strain mismatches, which could result in better health outcomes, helps enhance public confidence and potentially boost annual vaccine uptake."  

Influenza B is unpredictable with some seasons seeing infection rates as low as 0.8 per cent to as high as 67 per cent of all circulating influenza viruses in Canada.5,6 Approximately 15 to 25 per cent of influenza-related hospital admissions and deaths are attributable to influenza B virus strains.7

Despite universal influenza vaccination programs offered by most provinces, only 25 to 30 per cent of adults between 18 to 64 years of age get the influenza shot each year.8 According to a recent survey that looked at opinions among Canadians about influenza vaccination, 57 per cent of those surveyed did not get vaccinated during the 2014/2015 season. Of these, almost half (48 per cent) said that their primary reason was due to their belief that the influenza vaccine would not be effective. Interestingly, 61 per cent of Canadians surveyed say the availability of an influenza vaccine containing four strains instead of three would make them more likely to get vaccinated this season; this suggests that the availability of a vaccine covering more strains could increase immunization rates.9

"Children and adults living with chronic conditions like asthma are at high risk of severe illness and complications from influenza, and the annual influenza vaccination is our best defense," said Noah Farber, Acting President and CEO, Asthma Society of Canada. "Having greater access to advanced vaccines is an important step in helping reduce the burden of influenza and helping protect those who are most vulnerable. We need to ensure all Canadians have access to these vaccines, so we can help increase overall health for everyone."

Currently, publicly funded access to QIV varies by province. A full QIV annual universal influenza immunization program is currently accessible to the general population six months of age and older in Manitoba, Yukon Territory, and several Atlantic provinces. Individuals in Canada who are interested in QIV should inquire with their local Public Health authorities regarding vaccine availability in their respective province.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that QIV be used where available.10 It is quickly becoming the standard of care in the U.S. for individuals six months and older.

In Canada, there are three manufacturers offering quadrivalent vaccines this fall: Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca.

About Sanofi

Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris ((EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers a broad range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.us

References                                                                          

1Sanofi Pasteur Introduces 4-Strain Influenza Vaccine in Canada. Sanofi Pasteur. Accessed August 31, 2015. Available at http://www.sanofipasteur.ca/node/43601.  
2Belshe, RB. The need for quadrivalent vaccine against seasonal influenza. Vaccine 2010.
3Sanofi Pasteur Introduces 4-Strain Influenza Vaccine in Canada. Sanofi Pasteur. Accessed August 31, 2015. Available at http://www.sanofipasteur.ca/node/43601.
4An Advisory Committee Statement (ACS) National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) – Statement on Seasonal Influenza Vaccine for 2014-2015. National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) July 2014.
5Ibid.
62011-2012 FluWatch: August 12 to August 25, 2012 (Weeks 33 & 34). Public Health Agency of Canada. Accessed August 21, 2015. Available at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/fluwatch/11-12/w34_12/index-eng.php.
7Literature Review on Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccines. National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) July 2014. Accessed August 31, 2015. Available at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2014/aspc-phac/HP40-117-2014-eng.pdf.
8Influenza Immunization by Province. CANSIM. Statistics Canada. Accessed August 31, 2015. Available at http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26?lang=eng&retrLang=eng&id=1050501&pattern=influenza&tabMode=dataTable&srchLan=-1&p1=1&p2=-1
9Flu Vaccines Survey, June 29-July 2, 2015. Leger, The Research Intelligence Group. Data on file.
10Influenza (Seasonal) Fact Sheet N°211 March 2014. World Health Organization. Accessed August 31, 2015. Available at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs211/en/.

SOURCE Sanofi Pasteur

Image with caption: "Four-Strain Influenza Vaccine Available this Flu Season in Public Health Programs (CNW Group/Sanofi Pasteur)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150930_C6969_PHOTO_EN_509817.jpg



For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: Sanofi Pasteur, Nancy Simpson, Director, Communications, T. 416.667.2955, nancy.simpson@sanofipasteur.com


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