The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released Sanofi’s first doses of influenza vaccine Fluzone for shipment in a bid to address the requirements of the 2016-2017 influenza season.

The doses released for shipment are the first of more than 65 million total doses of seasonal influenza vaccine that are manufactured by French pharmaceutical company’s vaccines division, Sanofi Pasteur.

Starting this month, the Fluzone doses will be delivered to the US health care providers and pharmacies throughout the year.

Seasonal influenza is a serious respiratory illness that is easily spread, and usually occurs between October and May and peaks between December and February.

"Our legacy for researching and manufacturing influenza vaccines has existed for nearly 70 years at our Swiftwater-based facility."

However, influenza seasons are unpredictable as new influenza strains emerge and strain activity fluctuates throughout the year, thereby calling for the utmost necessity of timely vaccination to prevent the spread of the virus.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccination for every individual from children as young as six months of age through to adults of 65 years of age and above, with rare exceptions.

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CDC suggests that the vaccine should be received as soon as it is available in order to prevent the disease even before the season begins.

Sanofi Pasteur North America associate vice-president and regional medical head David P. Greenberg said: “Sanofi Pasteur is at the forefront of influenza vaccine innovation.

“Our legacy for researching and manufacturing influenza vaccines has existed for nearly 70 years at our Swiftwater-based facility, demonstrating our experience and commitment to this important public health need.

“We are dedicated to continuously improving our influenza vaccine options to ultimately help protect against influenza strains, including drifted strains that may occur in the future.”

Sanofi Pasteur is the single largest provider of influenza vaccine to the US and offers a wide range of influenza vaccine options including fluzone high-dose vaccine, fluzone quadrivalent vaccine and fluzone intradermal quadrivalent vaccine.