There are roughly 179 million doses of this year’s flu vaccine available
in this country—have you gotten yours yet? It’s one of the
best ways to protect yourself from flu-related illnesses, which is why
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention generally recommends the
flu vaccine for people ages 6 months and older, says
Mirelle Marquez, MD, a family medicine physician with
St. Mary High Desert Medical Group in Hesperia.
“Studies have shown that the flu vaccine can cut the number of flu-related
hospital visits, help protect populations that can have serious complications
from the flu, such as seniors, young children and those with severe illnesses,
and, if you do get sick, it may not hit you as hard,” Dr. Marquez says.
Each year’s vaccines are made after health experts research previous
data and the viruses that may be circulating for the coming flu season.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration makes the final decision as to which
viruses will be included in the vaccines.
“The three main types of flu viruses are influenza A (H1N1), influenza
A (H3N2) and influenza B,” Dr. Marquez says. “For the 2015-2016
flu season, the trivalent flu vaccine protects against three viruses—one
each of the influenza A types and one influenza B. The quadrivalent vaccine
adds a fourth, another B influenza strain. You can talk with your health
care provider about the vaccines she offers; in addition to doctor’s
offices, flu vaccines can be obtained in a variety of ways, including
workplace wellness programs, pharmacies, urgent care facilities and public
Depending on where you get your vaccine, you may also want to ask about
how it is administered. This year, intramuscular vaccines, usually given
through a shot in the arm, will be offered in trivalent and quadrivalent versions.
Intradermal vaccines—which use a shorter needle because they are
injected into the skin, not the muscle—will be quadrivalent, as
will nasal spray vaccines. Finally, adults ages 18 to 64 may be able to
take the Afluria brand trivalent vaccine via a jet injector, which replaces
the traditional needle with a high-pressure stream of fluid.
In one change from the 2014-2015 flu season, the CDC no longer recommends
nasal spray over a shot for healthy children ages 2 to 8.
“Wherever you get your vaccine, you’ll want to make sure the
health professional knows if you have any underlying medical conditions
or certain allergies, as that may affect the type of vaccine you should
have,” Dr. Marquez adds.
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