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New Flu Vaccine Options Available

According to the Mayo Clinic, there will be several NEW flu vaccine options available this coming flu season. Rather than just 2 options, you will now have a range of vaccines from which to choose. Influenza, of course, is a respiratory infection that can lead to serious complications, particularly in young children & older adults. Getting the vaccine is the most effective way to prevent influenza & its complications. The U.S. Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated against influenza every year. Until this year, there were only 2 options when it came to selecting the kind of flu vaccine you wanted: a shot or a nasal mist. The shot contains an inactivated vaccine made of killed virus. The nasal mist has a low dose of live–but weakened–flu viruses. Both options included 3 strains of influenza virus. With the new vaccines, the 2 delivery options of a shot or a nasal mist stay the same, but now you’ll have more choices if you decide to get the vaccine as a shot. Shot options include the standard vaccine with 3 strains of flu virus; a new 4-strain vaccine; 2 egg-free options; a high-dose flu shot; & a shot into the skin instead of beneath the skin. In the past, both the shot & the nasal mist option contained 3 strains of influenza virus. This year, however, 1 of the shots will include 4 strains of flu virus. The nasal mist option has been changed to include 4 strains of influenza virus, as well. Additionally, 2 new flu vaccine choices–both in shot form–will be made without any egg proteins in them. That makes them safe for anyone with an egg allergy. A high-dose shot will also be offered. This flu vaccine contains 4 times the usual dose. It is particularly well suited to older adults because it can help boost their immune system response to the flu, so they are better protected from the illness. Finally, individuals who need the shot form of the vaccine but who fear needles will be able to choose to have the vaccine delivered by a “micro-needle.” The tiny needle delivers the vaccine into the skin, rather than into the arm muscle as is done with the traditional shot using a larger needle…OUCH!! These new flu vaccines had to pass very strict safety measures before the FDA allowed them to be licensed & marketed in this country. Typically, vaccines are tested in about 10,000 to 40,000 people before they become widely available. It IS possible for very rare side effects to surface as more & more people use the vaccines. But in the thousands of folks who’ve received these vaccines so far, the safety records are the same as the current flu vaccines. Long story short…you’ll need to sort through all the options & talk with your health care provider about what’s right for you. By the way, The Mayo Clinic “Health Minute” is heard weekend evenings at 5:30 on our 5 o’clock news hours on KSEN/KZIN FM. Did you get your flu shot last year? I’d like to hear from you on my Puffman Blog.

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