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In January, a man gets a flu pill in Washington, DC. Eva Humbach / AFP / Getty Images

At least two companies producing influenza vaccines have begun shipping them to doctors’ offices, pharmacies, and other customers in the United States, but it’s too soon for people to think about getting one.

GlaxoSmithKline said on Tuesday that it has begun shipping some of the more than 50 million vaccines it hopes to supply for this critical liquid season. Another pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur, said it also began shipment to the US market last week, but did not say how many doses it expected.

Why it matters: US health officials say getting the flu vaccine this year will be more important than ever because of the coronavirus epidemic. It would be tough enough for hospitals and doctors to deal with a rapidly spreading and potentially deadly respiratory virus, let alone two. Also, nobody knows what can happen if people get infected with both viruses at the same time.

Because of this, both Glaxo and Sanofi say they are increasing their production to meet the expected increase in demand.

The company said in a statement on Tuesday, “GSK expects to supply more than 50 million doses of its influenza vaccines for the US market in the 2020–21 season, 46 delivered during the 2019–20 influenza season. Is an increase of million. “

But people will have to wait to get vaccinated.

“While vaccine shipment has begun for healthcare providers, it is too early to vaccinate in July or August, especially for older people, due to concerns that if vaccinations are given and peak flu season occurs, So protection can be reduced. According to the CDC, September and October are good times for vaccination. However, as long as the flu virus is spreading, vaccination should continue, even in January or beyond. Too, ”Sanofi said in his statement.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that when the flu vaccine takes two weeks to fully take effect, people should not get one in the summer.

“Early vaccination (for example, in July or August) is likely to be associated with less protection from flu infection later in the flu season,” the CDC states.

The CDC recommends that all people over 6 months of age receive a flu vaccine every year. The formulation of the vaccine varies from year to year to match the regular mutations of the virus and the changes in whatever is circulating.

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