On Your Side: More flu vaccine options this season - WRBL

On Your Side: More flu vaccine options this season

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If you plan on getting a flu shot, you no longer merely will be choosing between a poke in the arm or a squirt in the nose. This fall, some brands offer more choices and promise a little extra protection.

For the first time, certain vaccines will guard against four strains of the flu virus rather than the usual three. These new vaccines are called quadrivalent vaccines. Kid's tend to catch the newly added strain more often, so it may be more popular for children than their parents. The four-in-one vaccines are so new that they'll make up only a fraction of the nation's supply of flu vaccine, so if you want a dose, you better start looking early.

"The quadrivalent vaccine exists because you see a strain of b-virus floating around in our children, which can be very deadly," says Sheila Mayfield, the Clinical Nursing Director for Columbus Public Health.

Federal health officials recommend a yearly flu vaccine for nearly everyone, starting at 6 months of age. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal flu vaccines reduce the risk of illness by about 60%, but with room for improvement, there are always new vaccines to provide a better level of protection.

"Now is the best time to go ahead and get it," says Mayfield. "The earlier you get it the better it's going to be, so that everybody has an opportunity to build up those antibodies against the flu and when you're around your friends and family you're going to be less likely to get sick."

The quadrivalent vaccine is only for healthy people who are between the ages of 2 and 49. Other vaccination options are an egg-free shot for those allergic to eggs, shots for people 65-and-older, and if you're scared of needles, there's a painless nasal spray vaccine and a shot that pricks the skin instead of muscle.

When it comes to which flu vaccine you should get, Mayfield says it will be a choice between you and your physician.

"Do your research, talk to your healthcare provider and the two of you decide together which vaccine works best for you because there are some formulations that don't work for everybody and there are some that won't cover the general population," says Mayfield.

The vaccine is covered by insurance and Medicare and some plans don't require a copay. Drugstore vaccination programs tend to charge about $30; expect the quadrivalent versions to be slightly more expensive.

Flu Vaccine Finder

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