Health

Doctor Offers Advice On Various Flu Shot Options

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Source: KDKA-TV) Dr. Maria Simbra
Dr. Maria Simbra is an Emmy award-winning medical journalist, who...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There are so many different flu shot options this year, do you know which one might be best for you?

“There are different needs for different patients,” said Dr. Jennifer Press, of Allegheny Health Network Primary Care.

This year’s flu vaccines come in two broad categories: those that cover three strains or four strains of the flu expected to make the rounds this season.

Let’s talk about the three strain shots first.

They’re called trivalent vaccines and they’re designed to protect you against two strains of Influenza-A, the flu that’s more common earlier in the season, and one strain of Influenza-B, the type that can hit later.

The most common is the standard dose shot. It’s made with a virus grown in eggs, and approved for those six months and older.

But there are several variations to fit different needs, including a standard dose made without eggs for people who are allergic and another one that’s preservative free.

“If someone has a lot of allergies – drug allergies, environmental allergies,” said Dr. Press. “I had a young woman who has multiple food and drug allergies who was looking for preservative-free vaccine.”

Some people need a higher dose, mainly those 65 and older. There’s a shot for that.

Finally, if you’re someone who just can’t handle shots into the muscle, there’s a standard-dose injection that goes right under the skin using a much smaller needle.

“They were touting it as being less painful,” said Dr. Press. “I think the only place that got that vaccine was the drug store, because it comes in a different device.”

Onto the other set of vaccines – the quadrivalents. They cover two Influenza A’s and two B’s.

“There are two of them. First, a standard dose shot,” Dr. Press says.

It’s relatively new; and right now, some offices are reserving this one for the elderly and other high risk patients like those with asthma and COPD.

But because of its greater coverage, that could be changing.

“This is the one that’s been highly touted as having a much better antigenic response. It will protect people better. And it will become the standard of care,” Dr. Press said. “It’s very limited this year. We, in this office, only have 100 dosages.”

The other quadrivalent vaccine is the one known as flu-mist. It’s a nasal spray for healthy people ages 2 to 49.

Individual offices will have specific types depending on what was ordered by their bulk supplier, so you may not get to pick and choose once you get to your doctor’s. But because there are so many different places to get a flu shot these days, you can try calling ahead to see which types they have available.

“Supply’s fine. In fact, in our office, we actually have extra. So we’ve actually been able to offer it to some fellow offices that maybe didn’t have as much,” Dr. Press adds.

No matter what type you get, it’s not foolproof, but it’s better than nothing.

“The coverage is really 60 to 70 percent. And even if they got the flu, they probably got a milder case than they would have if they hadn’t gotten vaccine,” Dr. Press said.

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