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It’s that sniffly, achy time of year again.
But there is a way to lessen the seasonal impact, and that’s to get a flu vaccination.
This year, a new form of vaccine is coming into the market.
In addition to the traditional inhalant and injectable forms of the Trivalent flu vaccine, a Quadrivalent vaccine is being introduced.
The Trivalent vaccine contains two A-strains of the virus and a single B-strain, said Carla Wolff, assistant nursing director for the Bartholomew County Health Department.
The Quadrivalent vaccine adds an additional B-strain, providing broader protection.
Roughly 25 percent to 30 percent of the vaccinations given this flu season will be Quadrivalent, said Dr. Bradey Kleman of Columbus Pediatrics.
Each provider decides which vaccination to offer, so if you want to know which vaccine you’re getting, just ask, Kleman said.
Anyone getting the nasal mist will receive the four strains, Wolff said. But if you decide to go with the four-strain shot, it’s best to call your healthcare provider or clinic ahead of time.
“Everyone in the nation went on a wait list for the vaccine,” Wolff said. “They’re manufacturing it in batches, getting it approved by the FDA, then sending it out.”
The vaccination generally is covered by most insurance plans, Wolff said. If you’re paying out of pocket, you can get the shot for as little as $15.
Protection for kids
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children ages 6 months to
8 years be vaccinated twice.
Once you get vaccinated, it takes 28 days to take effect, Kleman said.
“That means the child gets one vaccine, waits 28 days and gets a second dose,” he said.
Because young children have not been exposed to the flu virus to build up antibodies, the first dose introduces the virus, and the second helps build resistance to the flu bug, he said.
Some people believe getting a flu shot can give them the flu. But Klemen said that’s not possible because of the way the vaccine is made.
“You may get the flu from the person giving you the vaccine, but not from the vaccine itself,” he said.
Anyone with a chronic condition such as asthma or diabetes is considered at a higher risk for the flu because the immune system is already compromised, Kleman said.
Children are especially susceptible, he said.
Flu deaths among children in the United States have averaged about 300 annually for the past several years, he said.
“That averages out to about seven per state,” Kleman said. “You want to prevent things that are potentially fatal, like the flu. And one of the best things to do is to get the vaccine.”
Being vaccinated lessens the risk of needing to take time off from work or needing to take care of a sick child, Wolff said.
Kleman said serious reactions to flu shots are rare.
“Most adverse reactions are local irritation and redness around the vaccine site,” Kleman said.
The biggest risk of reaction to the vaccine is generally among individuals who have an egg allergy, because the vaccine is grown in eggs. Whether an allergic person can get the flu vaccine is entirely dependent on the severity of the allergy, Kleman said.
“If it’s just hives, they can get the vaccine,” Kleman said. “If it’s more than hives, they should talk to their physician.”
Columbus couple Monica and Dave Christian and their children have received the flu vaccine every year for the past 10 years.
Monica Christian said neither she nor her husband or kids have ever had an adverse reaction to the shot. If anything, the positives outweigh the negatives, she said.
“We have five kids who are in the school system, so when one gets sick they all get sick,” Monica Christian said. “Anything you can do to protect them is a bonus.”
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