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Feds ready 2006
flu vaccine

Feds ready 2006
flu vaccine

With much of the nation having suffered through triple-digit heat the past few days, it would seem a strange time to be thinking about the winter flu season, but federal officials are doing just that and have identified three flu viruses they hope to combat with this year's flu vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday that it has approved the three-virus vaccine for the 2006-2007 flu season. One of the viruses was targeted by last year's vaccine, but two are new strains the FDA expects to be prevalent in North America later this year. The agency expects 100 million doses of the flu vaccine to be available this fall.

All HIV-positive people are urged to get an annual flu shot, as complications from the sickness can be dangerous for people with weakened immune systems. The vaccine offers protection against the three flu viruses for about six months, and as such it should be taken in October or November to convey protection through the entire flu season, which typically ends in the spring.

Each year the flu hits between 5% and 20% of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 200,000 people are hospitalized, and approximately 36,000 die each year. Federal officials say that receiving a flu shot isn't a guarantee against getting the flu, but they note it will offer protection against the three viruses expected to cause many flu cases this year. (The Advocate)

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