With flu just mere months away, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the 2012-2013 influenza vaccine for six manufacturers licensed to produce and distribute the vaccines nationwide.

For each upcoming flu season experts from the FDA, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a slew of other health care experts review the influenza virus to understand the viral strains and what is likely to cause the most illnesses for the approaching flu season.

Through analysis, research and recommendations of the FDA's Vaccine's Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, new strains selected to be included in the 2012-2013 flu vaccine includes: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus, A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2)-like virus, B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus. Though the H1N1 virus remains the same, the H3N2 and B viruses differ from last year's flu shots.

Throughout the flu season between 5 to 20 percent of Americans develop the virus each year.While the flu season can be difficult to predict, health care officials stress the importance of children six months of age and elderly individuals receive an annual flu vaccine.

“The best way to prevent influenza is by getting vaccinated each year,” said Karen Midthun, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “It is especially important to get vaccinated this year because two of the three virus strains used in this season’s influenza vaccines differ from the strains included in last year’s vaccines.”

According to the FDA, the manufacturers that will produce and distribute this seasons flu vaccines are:

  • Afluria, manufactured by CSL Limited;
  • Fluarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals;
  • FluLaval, manufactured by ID Biomedical Corporation;
  • FluMist, manufactured by MedImmune Vaccines Inc.;
  • Fluvirin, manufactured by Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited; and
  • Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose and Fluzone Intradermal, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur.

To get a head start on flu season visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a variety of ways to stay healthy.