The influenza virus is a highly changeable virus – it mutates constantly. So, every year the CDC and WHO get together and decide which strains of influenza virus the updated flu vaccine should cover. That’s partly why it’s recommended that you get a new one each year (the other reason is that your immunity wanes over the course of the year and needs to be boosted).
This year’s flu vaccine offerings are different than in years past. Previously, there’s been a special flu vaccine for adults over 65 called “High Dose” or “HD”; now there’s also FluAd available. This new type of vaccine is an adjuvant vaccine – meaning it’s had something “added” to it to make your immune system respond better to the vaccine, giving you better protection. However, for now, it’s best to go with the HD vaccine since it has better evidence for boosted protection.
Another consideration when choosing which flu shot to get is whether or not you want the standard trivalent (3 strain) vaccine or the newer quadrivalent (4 strain) vaccine. This year most insurance companies are (finally) paying for the quadrivalent vaccine, so you may want to choose this one since it protects against an additional strain of the flu. You may want to call ahead and see if our local pharmacy has this one on hand – it tends to go fast!
Although this year’s flu vaccine is being touted as only 30% effective, this shouldn’t deter you from going and getting vaccinated. The predominant strain that is circulating is A (H3), which is included in the vaccine! And even if it doesn’t prevent the flu, it can shorten the duration of illness and decrease the severity of the illness.
The flu season is in full swing, and flu infection rates are climbing. For more information on where the virus is currently active check out the CDC’s interactive map.
If you would like to learn more about this year’s flu shot, which one makes sense for you and your medication regimen, or have any additional questions about your medications, visit us at www.rxlive.com and sign up to speak with me or one of our expert pharmacists.