Flu Shots

A Guide to This Year’s Flu Shots

New for this year are shots and nasal sprays offering protection against a greater number of flu-virus strains. A new vaccine is available for people with severe allergies to eggs, which are used in traditional flu-vaccination production. And for people afraid of hypodermic needles, a micro-needle, available since last year, injects vaccine with just a skin prick.

Doctors recommend that people 6 months of age and older get vaccinated for influenza, but compliance rates often are low. In the 2011-2012 flu season, for example, the latest year for which CDC data are available, about 42% of people got a vaccine, including just over half of children 6 months to 17 years old. Public-health officials would like to see the vast majority of people immunized for influenza each year. Vaccination is the best way to reduce the chances a person will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance of spreading it to others, the CDC says.

New options for influenza vaccinations are available, but some may be in limited supply. Doctors say timing is important, so if people can’t find their preferred option, they should go ahead and get a flu shot of another type.

The trivalent shot: The long standard flu shot to protect against three strains of flu virus. It is usable for people ages 6 months and up.

The quadrivalent shot: New this year, a fourth strain of virus is added to the usual three, which should be especially helpful for protecting children from flu.

The nasal spray: This form of vaccination, called FluMist, is popular for use with children. Nasal-spray vaccinations are expected to contain four strains for the first time. Because it is a live, albeit weakened, virus it is recommended only for healthy people ages 2 to 49. Sprays aren’t advised for pregnant women, who instead should get flu shots, which contain inactive viruses.

Fluzone High-Dose vaccine: A trivalent shot used mainly for older people to give them a quick boost in immune response and protection.

Fluzone Intradermal vaccine: The shot uses a microneedle that injects vaccine into the skin rather than the muscle. It’s a good alternative for needle-phobic patients.

Recombinant influenza vaccine: The vaccine, called FluBlok, is available for the first time this season. It is made without the use of eggs, and is considered a good alternative for people with serious egg allergies. It is licensed for adults ages 18 to 49.

We will start giving influenza vaccines in October. Call for an appointment. We will have the trivalent vaccine and the Flumist.

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