On July 18, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had approved the influenza vaccine for the 2011-2012 flu season, allowing all six licensed manufacturers to produce and distribute it throughout the country.
Vaccination is the best way to prevent contracting influenza, a contagious disease that affects the respiratory system and is caused by the influenza virus. The vaccination was produced to protect against the three strains of the virus that are expected be the most prevalent this year, including the same strains as the 2010-2011 flu season.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on average, 5 to 20 percent of the population contracts the disease and more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued guidance on how to minimize influenza spread in the workplace, which includes proper hygiene, the use of safety products, and staying home from work when ill.
The FDA stresses the importance of receiving the vaccine, for personal prevention as well as for controlling the illness in places of work.