Take aim at the flu

By Dr. Brent Whitehead

Getting vaccinated is still the number one way to avoid the flu – a sometimes deadly disease. And these days there’s more than one way to get the vaccine. That’s good news for people who don’t like shots, are allergic to chicken eggs or want extra protection from the disease.

What are your options?

You can get a flu vaccine (called the trivalent vaccine) that safeguards against three strains of flu virus.

This vaccine comes in a standard-dose shot as well as a high-dose shot for people 65 and older who may need even more protection from the flu.

You can get a standard dose of vaccine that is:

• Grown in eggs. This vaccine is approved for anyone 6 months and older.

• Grown in cell culture. This vaccine is for people 18 years and older.

• Egg-free. This is available for people 18 years old to 49 years old.

In some cases, you can get the standard dose in an intradermal shot. This injection goes into the skin, not the muscle, and uses a smaller needle than the regular flu shot.

You can also choose a vaccine (called the quadrivalent vaccine) that will ward off four flu viruses. You can get this vaccine in two ways:

1. As a shot.

2. As a nasal spray. This is available only to healthy people 2  to 49 years old.

Who needs the vaccine?

Nearly everyone 6 months and older can, and should, get a flu shot. It’s especially important for people at high risk of complications from the flu. This includes:

• People with chronic medical conditions.

• Pregnant women.

•Children younger than 5 years old.

• Adults 65 and older.

If you live with or care for people at high risk, including infants younger than 6 months, you should get a flu vaccination. People who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs or to the flu vaccine might need to skip vaccination. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

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