Vidyya Medical News Service
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Volume 7 Issue 53 Published - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 22-Feb-2005 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST 23-Feb-2005
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New WHO influenza vaccine recommendations for 2005-2006 season, northern hemisphere

(22 February 2005: VIDYYA MEDICAL NEWS SERVICE) -- (by: Editorial team (eurosurveillance.weekly@hpa.org.uk), Eurosurveillance editorial office)

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently published new influenza vaccine recommendations for the 2005-6 season, for the northern hemisphere [1]. Next year’s vaccines should include:

  • an A/New Caledonia/20/99(H1N1)-like virus
  • an A/California/7/2004(H3N2)-like virus (candidate vaccine viruses are being developed)
  • a B/Shanghai/361/2002-like virus

These recommendations for the northern hemisphere were made by the WHO Global Influenza Programme. Members of the programme have collected and analysed data on more than 10 000 virus isolates characterised by WHO/National Influenza Centres on all continents over the past year.

Each year, representatives of the WHO Collaborating Centres on Influenza meet to analyse the data and make recommendations for the following year’s vaccine strains. The recommendations are used by pharmaceutical manufacturers to update the composition of the vaccine, so that vaccine strains are matched to circulating strains the following year. WHO also provides the manufacturers with prototype strains for the seasonal vaccine.The 2005/6 predictions should be valid if the normal pattern of seasonal influenza continues.

In 2004, WHO member states set a target of 60% influenza vaccine coverage of those in high risk categories, with the aim of 75% coverage by 2010. Some countries, such as the United States, are vaccinating children as part of their national influenza policy, as they can develop severe disease [2].

If a new pandemic strain of influenza A emerges, different circumstances would apply and it would be unlikely that the vaccine would be effective. The WHO is currently updating its pandemic plan - the latest version will be published shortly.

References:
  1. World Health Organization. WHO recommends influenza vaccine composition for Northern Hemisphere 2005-2006 influenza season. Press release, 10 February 2005. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2005/np05/en/index.html)
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Revised interim guidance for late-season influenza vaccination. 27 January 2005. (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/lateseasonguidance.htm)

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