Swine flu strain to go in seasonal jabs this year

Swine flu will be included in 2010/11 seasonal flu vaccines, the WHO has announced.

The decision follows a four-day meeting examining the influenza strains currently circulating globally.

The organisation announced that next year's trivalent vaccine for the northern hemisphere should include a swine flu strain, technically known as an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus. It will also include an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

A DoH spokeswoman said the department is planning to use the trivalent seasonal flu vaccine in the upcoming seasonal flu programme, as recommended by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Dr Keiji Fukada, WHO special adviser on pandemic influenza, said that the overwhelming number of flu viruses isolated around the world in the past year were the swine flu virus.

‘The experts believe based on this information that these viruses will continue to be one of the dominant viruses in wide circulation in the coming fall and winter season in the northern hemisphere,' he said. ‘And this is why they are recommending that this virus be put into vaccines for the fall and winter times.'

Dr Fukada stressed that the decision to include swine flu in the seasonal flu jab did not mean that the swine flu pandemic had finished.

‘The right interpretation of it is to say that this virus is expected to be a significant threat to people as we go into next year's fall and winter period and therefore protecting people against it in the vaccine is the basis for that decision.'

The strains to be included in each year's seasonal flu vaccines are decided about six months in advance of the flu season to allow time for vaccine manufacture.

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