Novartis has announced that it has shipped 27 million doses of its Fluvirin seasonal flu vaccine to the US.

The shipment for the 2009/2010 season was completed earlier than in previous years in anticipation of a higher demand for earlier vaccination created by the global A(H1N1) influenza pandemic.

Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics CEO Andrin Oswald said that he hoped the early delivery would help officials better prepare for the upcoming flu season and balance the need for pandemic and seasonal vaccination.

“We are relieved to have been able to complete our deliveries ahead of schedule despite the challenging task of producing large quantities of A(H1N1) pandemic vaccines at the same time,” Oswald said.

Novartis began shipments of the first doses of its influenza A(H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine to the US in September.

Around 40,000 people are believed to die from seasonal flu in the US every year.