RALEIGH, N.C. — People for the first time will have the option of getting inoculated against the flu with a newly developed four-strain vaccine rather than the three-strain vaccine that’s been in use for decades.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a shot for four flu strains Thursday — after approving a similar vaccine in December — to protect against the virus that kills thousands of Americans each year. Both vaccines were developed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) after public-health officials repeatedly wrongly predicted which flu strains would be the most dominant. GSK plans to deliver about 10 million doses for the upcoming flu season and at least 12 million doses of the traditional flu vaccine made for three strains.
The two GSK vaccines — FluLaval Quadrivalent and Fluarix Quadrivalent — are approved for children as young as 3 years.
“This is the first influenza season coming up where quadrivalent vaccine will be available,” said Leonard Friedland, GSK’s director for scientific affairs and public health.
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Vaccines with four strains are designed to increase the odds the inoculation will be effective.
The wholesale price for GSK’s four-strain vaccines is about one-third higher than the cost of the traditional vaccine. GSK’s wholesale price to health-care providers is $15.50 a dose for Fluarix Quadrivalent and $14.15 for a dose of Flulaval Quadrivalent.