Getting to Know Your Flu Vaccine Options

It’s influenza vaccine time again and the 2015-16 vaccines are offered with several different options—including one new method. Yes, it may seem overwhelming, but getting your annual flu shot is extremely important for your health, as well as the health of the community. The more informed you are about the flu shot, the better. Here’s what you need to know.

Which strains of the flu will this year’s vaccine protect you from?
The trivalent (three virus protection) and quadrivalent (four virus protection) vaccines all contain the same three or four viral strain protections, regardless of how the vaccine is administered. The three common strains they all contain this year include an H1N1-like virus, an H3N2-like virus and a Yamagata line of virus. If you are getting a quadrivalent vaccine, you will be getting these three, plus a Victoria line of virus.

Is there a recommended flu vaccine and will it make you sick?
Guidelines do not hold one vaccine type or method as superior to another. The vaccine that is best for you or your child is based primarily on age and health history. All of the options are made from a form of the virus, not the actual live virus that can make you sick. In other words, you cannot get the flu from the influenza vaccine.

Here’s a breakdown of the new flu vaccine option, as well as general guidelines:

  • Afluria – trivalent, brand new this year, this vaccine is administered in the shoulder muscle
    • This option is FDA approved to be given through the Stratis needle-free injector system, but can also be given with a sterile needle
    • Recommended for people 18 – 64 years old
  • Flublok – trivalent, this vaccine is for people with an allergy to eggs
    • Although this vaccine is not new, it is now approved for all people > 18 years old
  • Fluzone –  intradermal quadravalent (injected in the skin, instead of the muscle)
    • Although the intradermal option is not new, the quadravalent option is now being offered for the first time
    • Recommended for people 18 – 64 years old

Additional flu vaccine options include:

Quadrivalents:

  • Fluvarix
    • Recommended for people > 3 years old
    • Intramuscular
  • FluLaval
    • Recommended for people > 6 months (different doses available for age)
    • Intramuscular
  • Fluzone
    • Recommended for people 18 – 64 years
    • Intramuscular or intradermal
  • FluMist
    • Recommended for people 2 – 49 years old
    • Intranasal (sprayed through the nose)

Trivalents

  • Fluzone High Dose, this vaccine is for seniors
    • Recommended for people > 65 years old
  • Flucelvax & Flublok, this vaccine is for people with egg allergies
    • Recommended for people > 18 years
    • Intramuscular

As always, a discussion with your primary care provider will help decide which options are best for your family. There are additional criteria for each vaccine, as well as individual considerations. There is also the consideration of what options are available through your primary care physician’s office.

One more tip: Check with your insurance company on coverage of vaccines before making an appointment at your doctor’s office. Some insurance carriers have different coverages and requirements for vaccines.

Wollenweber, KaraKara Wollenweber, CNP, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner practicing in Perrysburg at ProMedica River Road Family Physicians.

 

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