Flu season is upon us and you only have to find a time and place to get your vaccine.
But, those are no longer the only things to consider with your annual flu shot.
Over the last five years there has been a flurry of new vaccines, giving you choices on how you want to fight influenza.
You can go with a run of the mill vaccine, but will that cover all of this year’s flu strains? The new flu shot covers all the strains, but what if you really hate needles? What if you want to avoid the egg protein that’s used to make the vaccine?
With so many ways to immunize, here’s a breakdown of this year’s flu shot options:
Standard Trivalent Vaccine
For decades, this was the premier flu vaccine.
The trivalent covers the two most common A-strains of that given year. The A flu strains are carried by humans and animals, often using birds to infect humans from one region to another.
This vaccine also provides protection for one of the two B strains. The B strain flu virus is only carried by humans and side effects are often less severe.
There are only two possible B strains in a given year. The trivalent vaccine offers protection for the B strain considered most common for that year, depending on the region.
Standard trivalent vaccines will likely be phased out in coming years, although they currently serve as a cheaper, easily accessible option.
Standard Quadrivalent Vaccine
Only available for a few years, the quadrivalent vaccine covers two A strains and both B strains of influenza. This vaccine is safe to use for anyone six months or older.
Many worry that the added antibiotics cause greater side effects compared to other immunizations.
This vaccine has shown the same safety as any other standard flu shot. The quadrivalent vaccine is made in the same way as the trivalent vaccine and shows identical mild side effects.
Although it may have been harder to find when first released, this vaccine is growing in popularity. The standard quadrivalent shot now accounts for over half of the available doses for the 2016-2017 flu season.
You may have to pay a bit more to get that extra protection from the flu. But, it is worth it as all four strains are in circulation.
High Dose Vaccine
As we get older, our body gets progressively worse at fighting diseases. To make up for those weakening antibodies, this vaccine was made for people 65 years or older.
This vaccine creates significantly more antibodies by using four times the normal amount of antigen compared to a standard flu shot.
Although slightly harder to find, this vaccine pays off with reliability. The high dose vaccine is almost 25 percent more likely to prevent influenza for a given person.
Studies have shown that side effects can be more severe from a high dose vaccine. This immunization can cause greater pain and redness around the injection site and muscle aches, although side effects are still uncommon.
There is one more flu vaccine available for the first time in 2016 that creates a stronger immune response.
FLUAD is a trivalent vaccine employs an adjuvant to create more antibodies. This adjuvant reduces the need for extra antigens from the virus and allows for more high-dose vaccines to be made.
This vaccine with adjuvant is currently only available for those that are 65 years or older.
Egg Free Trivalent Vaccine
Flu vaccines are commonly grown in egg proteins, allowing for the dormant virus to copy itself. Unless a person has a severe allergy, the protein in the flu shot is still safe for people allergic to eggs.
But for those who want to avoid any eggs in their flu shot, the Flublok trivalent vaccine is the solution.
Made without the use of chicken eggs or the flu virus, this vaccine is safe for people with any severity egg allergy.
The side effects are no different than with any other flu shot. The risks are some muscle pain, fatigue and headaches, although these effects occur in less than 20 percent of patients. The egg free vaccine’s only downsides are a shorter shelf life and an age requirement of 18 years or older.
Trying to stay flu free during your next trip? Call Passport Health at book an appointment online.or