Dr. Keith Roach

If you haven't gotten your influenza vaccine yet, it's time to think about it. This year's vaccine is similar to last year's, but two of the components have been updated to match the strains that are circulating worldwide and expected to be epidemic in North America. In fact, this year's decision on which specific types to include was delayed a month to get further information about a newer influenza virus. Nine different vaccines from five different manufacturers have been released by the Food and Drug Administration. All flu shots use only virus components and no live virus, so it is not possible to get the flu from a flu shot.

As in previous years, any flu vaccine is much better than none, but there are a few recommendations for specific people. In general, I recommend the quadrivalent vaccines, which provide protection against four strains. Most of the vaccines available in 2019-2020 are quadrivalent.

Men and women over 65 are recommended for high-dose vaccine, with double the amount of vaccine, and this year there is a quadrivalent high-dose vaccine (Fluzone High-Dose). An alternative would be the Fluad, which is a trivalent vaccine, with three components. This vaccine contains an adjuvant, which causes a more potent immune reaction than a standard vaccine.

People with egg allergies can receive any vaccine, according to expert groups, although there are vaccines made without using eggs (Flublok and Flucelvax). Don't delay getting your vaccine for fear of egg allergy.

Last year the vaccine was just about 50% effective. It is still possible to get the flu despite vaccination. However, the vaccine lowers hospitalization rates, deaths in children and protects expectant mothers and their babies. Getting vaccinated helps you, your family and neighbors, and your community.

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Dr. Keith Roach writes for North America Syndicate. Send letters to 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803 or email ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.


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