Novartis Vaccines has started shipping the Fluvirin seasonal influenza virus vaccine to healthcare facilities in the US weeks ahead of schedule in anticipation of a surge in demand.

Novartis Vaccines will provide the US market with approximately 30 million doses of the Fluvirin vaccine, which contains antigens to protect against three influenza virus strains recommended by the World Health Organization.

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics CEO Andrin Oswald said that by receiving the seasonal influenza vaccine early, physicians and public health officials can better prepare for the upcoming flu season.

“Novartis Vaccines said early on that we would not let production of a pandemic vaccine get in the way of our ongoing commitment to provide a seasonal influenza vaccine for the US market,” Oswald said.

“Our next goal will be to bring out an (A) H1N1 influenza vaccine for public health use as soon as possible.”

Vaccination is the most successful form of intervention against seasonal influenza, a highly communicable, acute viral infection that predominantly attacks the respiratory tract and sometimes the lungs, causing mild to severe illness and even death.