New Flu Shot Options Ease Sting

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Allergic to eggs? Hate needles? Over age 65? Want extra flu protection? No problem, flu experts say: This year’s choice of vaccinations covers all of those scenarios.

“We’re moving away from the one-size-fits-all to choosing the best possible vaccine for an individual’s age and condition,” Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic, told The Associated Press.

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New options include:

  • A shot that covers an additional strain. If you have kids, you might want to get to a clinic quickly — experts anticipate demand will be higher than supply, as less than a quarter of vaccines will offer the extra protection. The shot covers two strains of the A-class of viruses and both of the B-class strains. The B-class usually hits kids. This season’s flu mist will also protect against all four; a bonus for needle-shy children.
  • An egg-free shot. In the past, people allergic to eggs were advised to steer clear of the flu shot. This year, they can request Flublok, developed through cell technology from flu strains cultured in caterpillar cells — no eggs involved.
  • A extra-high-dosage shot. A new option for seniors, the Fluzone High-Dose uses four times the dose in the standard shot for immune systems that might not respond as well to the regular vaccine. The manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, says its research shows the shot to be 24 percent more effective in seniors.
  • An ouch-free version. Fluzone Intradermal uses micro-needles that might not be as scary as a traditional poke in the arm, and it’s available to a wider age group than the mist (it’s designed for 18- to 64-year-olds).

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine as soon as the current season’s vaccines are available.” The downside of the new options? It may present confusion for doctors and patients, Poland said.

Some vaccines are already available.

Photo: iStock

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