Flu shot, yeah, but which one?

flu vaccine

The standard shot-in-the-arm flu vaccine hasn’t changed much in decades. But new options are arriving, including three offered for the first time this year in the U.S., for example, a quadrivalent vaccine formulated to trigger immunity to four viral strains rather than the usual three. It’s annoying that there’s no evidence yet to compare the effectiveness (while prices of the newer options run to double or triple that of the standard shot, which costs about $10.)  But the newer alternatives have features that may make them preferable in some situations.

[This chart didn’t make it into a piece I wrote about flu this winter, but I don’t want it to go to waste, so here it is. (Red type = new this year in the U.S.)]

Vaccine Features How it’s given Target age group Cautions Cost per dose
Cell culture (Flucelvax) Safer for those allergic to eggs because it’s not grown in chicken embryos. Injection  18 and older First year available in U.S., so less is known about effectiveness and side effects. $18
High dose (Fluzone High-Dose) Contains four times the dose of flu antigen, which may produce a stronger immune response. Injection 65 and older • Associated with significant nausea and vomiting.• More likely to cause fever and injection redness and swelling. $28
Intradermal (Fluzone Intradermal) Less painful shot; uses a micro-needle to inject vaccine into skin instead of muscle. Micro-injection 18-64 years More likely to cause injection site redness and swelling. $17
Nasal spray (Flumist) • Needle-free.• In children, may be more effective than standard flu shot.

• Now also quadrivalent.

Sprayed into each nostril 2-49 years • Shouldn’t use if you are pregnant, immune suppressed or caring for someone who is.• In adults, appears to be less effective than the standard flu shot. $22
Recombinant (FluBlok) • Safer for those allergic to eggs because it’s not grown in chicken embryos. • May produce a stronger immune response than standard flu shots. Injection 18-49 years First year available in the U.S., so less is known about effectiveness and side effects. $32
Quadrivalent (Fluarix, FluLaval, Fluzone Quadrivalent) Formulated to trigger immunity to four viral strains rather than just three, in theory providing broader protection. Injection 6 months or older First year available in the U.S., so less is known about effectiveness and side effects. $15-21

Sources:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s