Some flu vaccines promise a little more protection - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Some flu vaccines promise a little more protection

WASHINGTON -

Flu vaccination is no longer merely a choice between a jab in the arm or a squirt in the nose. This fall, some brands promise a little extra protection. 

For the first time, certain vaccines will guard against four strains of flu rather than the usual three. Called quadrivalent vaccines, these brands may prove more popular for children than their parents. That's because kids tend to catch the newly added strain more often.

These four-in-one vaccines are so new that they'll make up only a fraction of the nation's supply of flu vaccine, so if you want a dose, better start looking early. 

But that's only one of an unprecedented number of flu vaccine options available this year. 

Allergic to eggs? Egg-free shots are hitting the market, too. 

Plus there's growing interest in shots brewed just for the 65-and-older crowd, and a brand that targets the needle-phobic with just a skin-deep prick. 

"We're moving away from the one-size-fits-all to choosing the best possible vaccine for an individual's age and condition," said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic. 

"The flip side of that," he said, is that "this will be a confusing year" as doctors and consumers alike try to choose. 

Federal health officials recommend a yearly flu vaccine for nearly everyone, starting at 6 months of age. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Some questions and answers about the different vaccine varieties to choose from:

Q: What's the difference between those new four-strain vaccines and the regular kind? 

A: For more than 30 years, the vaccine has offered protection against three influenza strains - two common Type A strains called H1N1 and H3N2, and one strain of Type B. Flu strains continually evolve, and the recipe for each year's vaccine includes the subtypes of those strains that experts consider most likely to cause illness that winter. 

Type A flu causes more serious disease and deaths, especially the H3N2 form that made last year such a nasty flu season. But the milder Type B flu does sicken people every year as well, and can kill. Two distinct Type B families circulate the globe, making it difficult to know which to include in each year's vaccine. Adding both solves the guesswork, and a CDC model estimates it could prevent as many as 485 deaths a year depending on how much Type B flu is spreading.

Q: How can I tell if I'm getting the four-strain vaccine? 

A: All of the nasal spray version sold in the U.S. this year will be this new variety, called FluMist Quadrivalent. The catch is that the nasal vaccine is only for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren't pregnant. 

If you prefer a flu shot, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the four-strain kind is available. Younger children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions all can use flu shots. Four-strain versions are sold under the names Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent and FluLaval Quadrivalent. 

Manufacturers anticipate producing between 135 million and 139 million doses of flu vaccine this year. Only about 30 million doses will offer the four-strain protection. 

Q: Who should seek it? 

A: Type B flu tends to strike children more than the middle-aged, Poland noted. And he said it's not a bad idea for seniors, who are more vulnerable to influenza in general. But the CDC doesn't recommend one vaccine variety over another, and the American Academy of Pediatrics said either kind is fine - just get vaccinated. 

Q: How are these new vaccines different from the high-dose flu shot for seniors? 

A: Fluzone High-Dose protects against the traditional three strains of flu, but it quadruples the standard vaccine dose in an effort to rev up age-weakened immune systems don't respond as actively to regular flu shots. 

The government calls the high-dose shot an option for seniors, not one that's proved better. Last week, Sanofi Pasteur said initial results from a study of 30,000 seniors vaccinated over the past two flu seasons suggest the high-dose shot is about 24 percent more effective. Federal health officials will have to review the full study results to see if they agree.

Q: What if I'm allergic to eggs?

A: Traditional flu vaccine is made from viruses grown in eggs, and specialists say it's usually not a problem unless someone has a serious egg allergy. But the new FluBlok vaccine eliminates that concern because it is made with cell technology, like many other nonflu vaccines. So far, it's only for use in people ages 18 to 49.

Q: What if I'm scared of needles? 

A: If you don't qualify for the ouchless nasal spray vaccine, there is one shot made with a teeny-tiny needle that pricks the skin instead of muscle. Called Fluzone Intradermal, it's available for 18- to 64-year-olds, and protects against the usual three strains.

Q: How soon should I be vaccinated?

A: Early fall is ideal, as it's impossible to predict when flu will start spreading and it takes about two weeks for protection to kick in. But later isn't too late; flu season typically peaks in January or February.

Q: How much does flu vaccine cost? 

A: The vaccine is covered by insurance, and Medicare and some plans don't require a copay. Drugstore vaccination programs tend to charge about $30; expect the quadrivalent versions to be slightly more expensive.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Children unfairly searched at Raleigh middle school, parents say

    Children unfairly searched at Raleigh middle school, parents say

    Thursday, October 30 2014 6:50 AM EDT2014-10-30 10:50:09 GMT
    Thursday, October 30 2014 9:29 AM EDT2014-10-30 13:29:09 GMT
    Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School students Jahna Brino and Kiala Golden said they were unfairly searched at school.Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School students Jahna Brino and Kiala Golden said they were unfairly searched at school.
    Some Wake County parents said their children were unfairly searched, some even handcuffed, at Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School last Friday.
    Some Wake County parents said their children were unfairly searched, some even handcuffed, at Centennial Campus Magnet Middle School last Friday.
  • Raleigh man arrested in fatal hit-and-run

    Raleigh man arrested in fatal hit-and-run

    Thursday, October 30 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-10-30 13:10:41 GMT
    Thursday, October 30 2014 9:10 AM EDT2014-10-30 13:10:41 GMT
    A Raleigh man is facing multiple charges after hitting and killing a motorcyclist in Raleigh on Wednesday evening, police said.
    A Raleigh man is facing multiple charges after hitting and killing a motorcyclist in Raleigh on Wednesday evening, police said.
  • 3rd suspect charged in death of Moore Co. potter

    3rd suspect charged in death of Moore Co. potter

    Thursday, October 30 2014 9:09 AM EDT2014-10-30 13:09:56 GMT
    Thursday, October 30 2014 9:09 AM EDT2014-10-30 13:09:57 GMT
    Deputies arrested a third suspect Thursday in connection with the murder of a Moore County potter in August.
    Deputies arrested a third suspect Thursday in connection with the murder of a Moore County potter in August.
  • Va. Dept. of Corrections to closely monitor sex offenders on Halloween night

    Va. Dept. of Corrections to closely monitor sex offenders on Halloween night

    Va. Dept. of Corrections to closely monitor sex offenders on Halloween night

    Thursday, October 30 2014 10:08 AM EDT2014-10-30 14:08:04 GMT
    Virginia Department of Corrections announced this year's plans to monitor sex offenders under probation and parole supervision throughout the Commonwealth on Halloween night. 
    Virginia Department of Corrections announced this year's plans to monitor sex offenders under probation and parole supervision throughout the Commonwealth on Halloween night. 
  • WSLS to debut new studio

    WSLS to debut new studio

    WSLS to debut new studio

    Thursday, October 30 2014 9:38 AM EDT2014-10-30 13:38:48 GMT
    WSLS 10 is thrilled to announce we will be unveiling our new studio Thursday evening for the first time.
    WSLS 10 is thrilled to announce we will be unveiling our new studio Thursday evening for the first time.
  • Rt 130 accident causes major backups in Amherst County

    Rt 130 accident causes major backups in Amherst County

    Thursday, October 30 2014 8:43 AM EDT2014-10-30 12:43:52 GMT
    AMHERST COUNTY (WSLS)-- State police are at the scene of an accident on Route 130 in Amherst County that has the road closed in both directions.VDOT says the road is closed at the mile marker 32 (Amelon Road) intersection. Drivers are being detoured from Route 130 West to Route 677 to Route 29 South and back to Route 130 West.State police are still investigating at this time.
    AMHERST COUNTY (WSLS)-- State police are at the scene of an accident on Route 130 in Amherst County that has the road closed in both directions.VDOT says the road is closed at the mile marker 32 (Amelon Road) intersection. Drivers are being detoured from Route 130 West to Route 677 to Route 29 South and back to Route 130 West.State police are still investigating at this time.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.