This fall there are more options than ever on the flu vaccine market. Gone are the days of choosing between the shot or nasal mist; now we have trivalent versus quadrivalent doses, an egg-free shot, vaccines created for the 65+ community and another for people who have an aversion to needles.
But which one is right for you?
How Many Valents?
Trivalent vaccines are what most of us have been receiving for more than 30 years; they’re vaccines that are intended to protect you from three strains of the flu (this year’s cocktail includes two common Type A strains and one Type B). Quadrivalent vaccines add protection from a fourth strain of flu (a second Type B variety).
The quadrivalent vaccine may sound like the better option – more protection is better, right? But experts from the FMH Infection Prevention and Control department as well as national organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics agree: there is no reason to hold out for a specific vaccine.
All of the nasal spray sold in the U.S. this year will be quadrivalent. If you want to call around and see if you can find a quadrivalent shot you can ask for Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent, or FluLaval Quadrivalent. Keep in mind that of the 135 million doses produced for this flu season, only about 30 million will offer four-strain protection. If you’re having a hard time tracking it down, get a more readily available trivalent vaccine. The key here is to get vaccinated. You may think four-strain protection is better than three, but three is certainly better than none.
If you have a severe egg allergy the choice is fairly obvious. Flublok was approved in the middle of last flu season and will be hitting the shelves for the first time this year. Instead of using chicken eggs or the flu virus in the manufacturing process, the vaccine is created using a single protein from the flu virus (hemagglutinin). To date, Flublok is approved for adults 18-49 years old.
High Dose for Seniors
If you’re 65 or older, coming down with the flu can have severe consequences. You may want to consider a Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, which covers the traditional three strains of the flu but quadruples the dose. This can help engage age-depleted immune systems that may not respond as vigorously to standard shots.
Less Needle, Same Shot
If you’re both needle-phobic and can’t stomach the nasal mist, ask your doctor about Fluzone Intradermal. It’s made with an extremely small needle that pierces the skin rather than going into the muscle. Right now it’s approved for use in adults age 18-64.
No matter which option you choose, early fall (e.g. NOW) is the best time to get vaccinated. The Frederick County Health Department will offer FREE flu shots to children six months to 17 years old during a series of clinics beginning October 5th. Schedule your appointment today!
Here at FMH, our employees will be getting their shots in the coming weeks. If you decide to wait, know that there’s a two-week lag time between the shot and its full protective ability, but you won’t be “too late” until well after 2014 arrives.