The US Food and Drug Administration has approved GlaxoSmithKline’s Fluarix Quadrivalent vaccine, the first intramuscular vaccine to cover four strains of influenza.

The vaccine has been approved for the immunisation of adults and children aged three years and older to prevent disease caused by two A virus strains most common in humans, and two virus B strains.

Currently, three-strain flu vaccines help protect against two A virus strains and one B strain.

But since the year 2000, two B virus strains (Victoria and Yamagata) have co-circulated to varying degrees each season.

Dr Leonard Friedland, head of vaccines clinical development and medical affairs in North America explained; "Trivalent influenza vaccines have helped protect millions of people against flu, but in six of the last 11 flu seasons, the predominant circulating influenza B strain was not the strain that public health authorities selected.

"Fluarix Quadrivalent will help protect individuals against both B strains and from a public-health standpoint, can help decrease the burden of disease."

GSK said it will make Fluarix Quadrivalent available in time for the 2013-14 flu season and plans to fulfill orders for its trivalent vaccines.

Image: GSK’s vaccine covers four strains of the influenza virus. Photo: Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.