There won’t be public-health announcements to “get your vaccine today” for months, but the pharma supply chain is already busy laying the foundation for this year’s flu season. Sanofi Pasteur has begun shipping its products “in a manner to support an equitable distribution of influenza vaccine across a number of providers/channels,” according to Dr. Corey Robertson, Senior Director, Scientific and Medical Affairs at the company. Products are FluBlok Quadrivalent, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Quadrivalent vaccines. Most of the production is at the company’s Swiftwater, PA, facility; FluBlok Quadrivalent is produced at Pearl River, NY and a facility in Japan.
Fluzone High-Dose is intended for adults 65 years and older, and is said to be 24.2% more effective than a standard quadrivalent dose. Fluzone Quadrivalent is intended for children as young as six months. Together, these two groups are generally regarded as the most susceptible to flu and its health effects. FluBlok—produced by recombinant DNA technology, and not cultivated in eggs—is for adults 18 years and older, and is said to be 30-43% more effective than standard quadrivalents. Vaccine effectiveness was a sore point in last year’s flu season, with some versions, matched against some flu variants, said to be 67% effective at best. Robertson says that absolute effectiveness cannot be predicted coming into the flu season, but that “In general, the increase in absolute vaccine effectiveness for Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok Quadrivalent vaccines is highest for scenarios with the lowest assumed absolute vaccine effectiveness for standard-dose vaccine.”
The traditional form of flu vaccine production involves inoculating chicken eggs; the Swiftwater facility processes some 1 million eggs daily, and the ratio is one egg per one dose.