As the end of the year gets closer, you may have already caught a cold or another bug from work or school—but you’ll want to be extra careful to protect yourself from the flu. Flu season can begin as early as October, but it tends to peak at this time of year—from December to February.
To keep yourself from getting sick, it’s best to get the flu vaccine as early as possible, but as long as the flu virus is circulating, it isn’t too late. You can still get vaccinated, and take other measures to stay healthy.
Your local pharmacy will still have flu shots for 2015 – 2016. Getting vaccinated at your local pharmacy is convenient (you can get it while grocery shopping, for example) and can also save you a trip to your doctor’s office (often a germ factory at this time of year).
These 8 questions and answers will walk you through what you need to know about getting vaccinated in 2015.
1. Why are there so many flu shot choices?
Like any good product, the flu shot has evolved. This means more choices, but folks who weren’t able to receive the vaccine in the past are also able to get vaccinated. There are now options for you if you have an egg allergy, or would prefer an alternative to a shot with a needle.
2. Trivalent (TIV) versus quadrivalent (QIV)—what’s the difference?
A TIV or trivalent flu shot protects against 3 strains of the flu virus. A QIV or quadrivalent flu shot protects against 4 strains of the flu virus.
The flu is a virus that can be made up of 3 different types: A, B, and C. Influenza A and B are the most common types of the virus that show up each year during flu season and are included in the flu shot created each year.
The trivalent flu shot protects against 2 different influenza A viruses and 1 influenza B virus.
The quadrivalent flu shot protects against the same 2 influenza A viruses, the same influenza B virus, and an additional influenza B virus.
3. Is it true that there is a small needle flu shot?
Yes. Approximately 20% of people are afraid of needles and receiving shots, and the Fluzone Intradermal vaccine is one option if you’re part of that group. Fluzone Intradermal uses a microneedle delivery system that allows the vaccine to be delivered with a 90% smaller needle. And even though the Fluzone Intradermal vaccine uses a small ultra-thin needle, it’s still very effective. In fact, it’s one of the quadrivalent vaccines and will protect you against 4 common strains of the flu.
4. What about the nasal spray flu vaccine?
FluMist is another needle-free option. It’s a live flu vaccine that can be administered as a nasal spray for anyone 2 to 49 years of age.
For more information on FluMist, see the manufacturer page here.
5. Which flu shot can be given to people with an egg allergy?
Flublok is approved for adults 18 and older who have an egg allergy. Take note though—if you only experience hives, rather than a more serious reaction to eggs, you can still choose between Flublok or the normal inactivated flu vaccine.
You can find more information on Flublok here.
6. If I’m 65 or older do I have to get the high-dose flu shot?
No. If you are 65 years of age or older you can either get the regular flu shot or the Fluzone High-Dose flu shot.
However, the high-dose flu shot is the first and only flu vaccine specifically for people 65 years and up. According to the manufacturer, it is 24% more effective than the regular flu shot. Ask your doctor or pharmacist which vaccine is right for you, and take a look at the manufacturer’s website for more information.
Also be aware—if you have Medicare, you may be able to receive a yearly flu shot for free. You can find more information on the Medicare.gov site.
7. Can kids get a flu shot at the pharmacy?
Yes and no. You’ll want to check with your local pharmacy to see if your state allows pharmacists to vaccinate children. Pharmacists in Illinois, for example, can give flu shots to children 10 years and older, while the limit in Pennsylvania is 9 years and older, and Ohio pharmacists can give a flu shot to children as young as 7.
8. How long does it take for the flu vaccine to start working?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it takes approximately 2 weeks for your body to build antibodies to the flu vaccine. You can still get sick during this time, and this is why you’ll want to get vaccinated as soon as possible if you haven’t already done so.