BOSTON (CBS) – The message about the protecting yourself against the flu this season is the same. “We really emphasize the flu vaccine every year,” says Dr. Paul Sax, the Clinical Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. The sentiment is echoed by Brigham’s Director of Pharmacy, John Fanikos, “it’s most important to get a vaccination.”
But this year the options to protect yourself are different. Some flu shots are now more like a skin prick. Fluzone uses a microneedle to deliver a smaller amount of the vaccine but promises the same protection.
And for the first time there are vaccines that protect against four strains of influenza. The standard flu shot protects against three. “I have a feeling that over time the quadrivalent will become the next standard,” says Dr. Sax.
Also new this year, there’s a super high dose vaccine available for high-risk groups and egg-free vaccines for people with egg allergies. The egg-free option should be available by November.
“Some people are very afraid of needles. They should be aware there is a needle free option for flu vaccine,” explains Dr. Sax. He’s talking about the FluMist. This is available for people up to 49 years old and it can also protect against four strains of flu.
Kids and senior citizens are most likely to get the flu shot. The hard part is convincing healthy young adults to get vaccinated. Northeastern University employee Jeff Jean-Francios came to a free flu clinic to get his vaccine because his wife just had a baby. And a newborn is a great reason to get the shot, but it’s not the only one. “Sometimes, rarely, we’ll see someone who is otherwise very healthy get a terrible case of flu,” says Dr. Sax but the other reason is a more altruistic one, he says. Healthy young adults can transmit the flu to older or younger people who are more susceptible to the flu.
The experts agree it doesn’t matter what kind of flu shot you get, the most important thing is just to get one. “You never know if you’re going to get the flu. And if you do get the flu you say ‘I should have gotten the flu shot,'” Joy Erb told us after getting vaccinated at the Northeastern clinic.
If you want something other than the standard shot in the arm you’ll have to call ahead to make sure it’s available. Doctors recommend getting the flu shot as soon as possible but you can get it straight through flu season which usually peaks in February. But don’t wait too long, it usually takes about two weeks for the vaccine to start working.
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