This year brings more changes to the standard flu shot than any time in recent memory — so many choices it’s even a little confusing to us doctors.
Like going to a car dealership, you’re going to have some choices to make as new brands and models hit to the vaccination showroom floor.
First, the advice as to who gets a flu vaccine pretty much stays the same, meaning — pretty much everyone, every age, except infants under age 6 months, should get a vaccine. There are a few exceptions.
Now, what’s new:
1. There is a new vaccine that covers an extra strain of flu. The typical flu vaccine covers 3 strains: 2 “A” and one “B”. This year is an extra “B”– available in what we call a quadrivalent vaccine. It’s hoped including the extra strain will mean better coverage– last year’s vaccine missed a strain that wound up making a bunch of people sick. (yes, there is a lot of guesswork figuring what to put into a vaccine every year.)
This new vaccine is mainly intended for kids, who tend to be the ones who are most prone to pick up the “B” strains. BTW, this one comes in a nasal spray.
2. If you’ve avoided flu vaccines because you are allergic to eggs, avoid no more. This year comes a new vaccine that isn’t developed with the use of eggs in the lab. When you see everyone else getting their vaccine, hop into line and ask for the egg-free.
3. A turbo-charged vaccine is now available for people over age 65. One of the problems as you hit your older years is that your immune system weakens, so get a flu shot, and your body doesn’t even react — no build-up of protective antibodies. This new vaccine contains an “extra” kick, so your immune system will know to wake up and get cooking.
4. Finally, if you hate needles–and who doesn’t, right Dave?– there is a new micro-needle that penetrates a micro amount into the skin, so you don’t feel like someone is driving a railroad spike through your arm. The product is called “FluZone Intradermal”.
Now you know and I know that a flu vaccine is never perfect, and frankly last year’s only was about 60% effective. It’s hoped these new choices will help more people, especially kids, avoid the flu.
Keep in mind, don’t get any vaccine and your protection is 0%– a heck of a lot less than even 60.