This season’s flu shots explained
If you get a flu shot, you’re 60 percent less likely to get the flu. And if you do happen to get it, you’re likely to have a milder case if you’ve been inoculated. The flu puts more than 200,000 people in the hospital each year and kills on average about 24,000. Here’s the rundown on the different vaccines that are available this flu season:
Standard flu shot: This tried-and-true shot that’s been around for more than 30 years protects against three strains of influenza, and is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. This year’s version protects against the two common Type A strains H1N1 and H3N2, and one strain of Type B influenza virus.
Quadrivalent vaccine: New this year, this vaccine that protects against four types of influenza – the same three strains as the regular flu shot, plus an additional B-strain virus that primarily affects kids. Available to everyone 6 months and older, the quadrivalent shot will be available in limited supply this year, therefore it’s primarily recommended for children.
Fluzone High-Dose: Designed for seniors age 65 and older, this vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen – the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody – as a regular flu shot does, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. The manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, says its research shows the shot to be 24 percent more effective in seniors.
Fluzone Intradermal: If you’re squeamish about needles, the intradermal shot is a nice option because it uses a tiny micro-needle to inject the vaccine just under the skin, rather than deeper in the muscle like standard flu shots. This year’s version will protect against three strains of influenza, and is recommended to those ages 18 to 64.
FluBlok: Created for people who are allergic to eggs who have had to skip their yearly flu shot. FluBlok is the first egg-free flu vaccine developed through cell technology from three flu strains cultured in caterpillar cells. This shot, however, is only recommended to younger adults between the ages of 18 and 49.
FluMist: This nasal spray vaccine protects against four strains of influenza, just like the quadrivalent shot, but it’s only recommended for those between age 2 and 49.
It’s also important to know that most health insurance plans including Medicare will cover the cost of any flu shot. But if you’re not covered by insurance, you can expect to pay around $25 to $35 for a standard, intradermal or quadrivalent flu shot, or $50 to $60 for a shot of the high-dose or flublock.