Immunization Matters – Flu Vaccination

Flu can be fatal. Vaccination is vital. Everyone over six months old should be vaccinated every year. A new challenge for consumers is deciding which vaccine to get and there are several vaccines to choose from:

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. Most 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, Flublok, which does not contain any egg protein whatsoever. People with egg allergy of any severity can receive Flublok, but it is only licensed for adults age 18 and older.

Which vaccine does the CDC recommend?

CDC does not recommend one vaccine over another. The important thing is to make sure you get one.

If you haven’t been vaccinated, don’t delay. Flu vaccination gives you an edge in fighting the infection The vaccine won’t give you flu … but it takes two weeks to build up protective antibodies. So meanwhile, if you’re exposed, you could get sick. If you catch it, even if you’ve been vaccinated, call your doctor to start treatment with antiviral drugs as soon as possible.

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