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Flu vaccine choices: Which one is right for you?

October 25, 2013 10:00am (EDT)

This year offers a new challenge for consumers: the need to decide which vaccine to receive.There are many choices.

Standard flu shot: Trivalent or Quadrivalent?
The standard flu shot is inactivated. meaning it is made from killed virus. In the past, all flu vaccines have been trivalent, meaning they included coverage for three flu strains: two A strains and one B strain. Many companies are now transitioning to a quadrivalent vaccine formulation which includes coverage for four strains: two A strains and two B strains.

Needleless Nasal flu vaccine
If you hate needles and if you are between 2 and 49, healthy, and not pregnant, you can choose the nasal flu vaccine. No needles are involved. All nasal flu vaccines are quadrivalent. Nasal flu vaccine is live attenuated vaccine, meaning it is made from live but weakened virus.

Skinny needle vaccine (intradermal)
If needles make you nervous and you would prefer a teeny tiny needle, the intradermal flu vaccine is for you, as long as you are an adult 18-64. This intradermal vaccine is not for kids.

High dose vaccine (for seniors only)
For seniors (those age 65 and older), the high dose flu vaccine formulation is stronger than standard vaccine. As we get older, our immune system does not work as well. This higher dose shot can help older patients mount a stronger immune response and better fight flu if exposed.

Allergic to eggs? Read this good news.
In the past, patients with egg allergy were told they could not get the vaccine because the vaccine virus material is grown in eggs. This has been studied extensively. The new thinking is that for people who have mild (hives only) egg allergy, it is fine to get the shot. But for those, vaccination with a needle is necessary. The nasal flu shot (made from live but weakened virus) should not be used because it has not been studied enough in egg allergic individuals.
There is a new flu formulation available this year which does not contain any egg protein whatsoever: Flublok. People with egg allergy of any severity can receive it, as long as they are between 18 and 49.

Which vaccine does the CDC recommend?
CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another. The important thing is to make sure you get one.
(Note: Children age 8 and younger receiving their first flu vaccine need 2 doses, a month apart. This helps prime their immune system so they can fight infection if exposed. )

Now you have the facts. Pick a vaccine and get it.

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