Would you hold out searching for a four-strain flu shot?

The American Academy of Pediatrics is concerned that parents will put off getting flu shots for their kids until they can located the new four-strain flu shot instead of the regular three-strain shot. The four-strain shot is new this year, along with some other flu shot options, but the Academy advises parents it’s not worth waiting for.

From NBC News:

“Parents should get their kids – and themselves – vaccinated against flu as soon as possible, pediatricians advised on Monday.

There are some new vaccines on the market and while some of the newer ones might appear better, it’s not worth waiting for one, the American Academy of Pediatrics said in an advisory…

“Theoretically, four strains sounds better than three strains. We just don’t have data to support that that’s actually the case,” (Dr. Michael Brady of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Academy) said. “The AAP is not going to recommend a preference, but that doesn’t mean that parents don’t have a preference.”

The Associated Press explained more about your new options:

“…For the first time, certain vaccines will guard against four strains of flu rather than the usual three. Called quadrivalent vaccines, these brands may prove more popular for children than their parents. That’s because kids tend to catch the newly added strain more often.

“These four-in-one vaccines are so new that they’ll make up only a fraction of the nation’s supply of flu vaccine, so if you want a dose, better start looking early.

“But that’s only one of an unprecedented number of flu vaccine options available this year.

“Allergic to eggs? Egg-free shots are hitting the market, too.

“Plus there’s growing interest in shots brewed just for the 65-and-older crowd, and a brand that targets the needle-phobic with just a skin-deep prick.

“We’re moving away from the one-size-fits-all to choosing the best possible vaccine for an individual’s age and condition,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

“The flip side of that,” he said, is that “this will be a confusing year” as doctors and consumers alike try to choose.

“Federal health officials recommend a yearly flu vaccine for nearly everyone, starting at 6 months of age. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Some questions and answers about the different vaccine varieties to choose from:

“Q: What’s the difference between those new four-strain vaccines and the regular kind?

“A: For more than 30 years, the vaccine has offered protection against three influenza strains — two common Type A strains called H1N1 and H3N2, and one strain of Type B. Flu strains continually evolve, and the recipe for each year’s vaccine includes the subtypes of those strains that experts consider most likely to cause illness that winter.

“Type A flu causes more serious disease and deaths, especially the H3N2 form that made last year such a nasty flu season. But the milder Type B flu does sicken people every year as well, and can kill. Two distinct Type B families circulate the globe, making it difficult to know which to include in each year’s vaccine. Adding both solves the guesswork, and a CDC model estimates it could prevent as many as 485 deaths a year depending on how much Type B flu is spreading.

“Q: How can I tell if I’m getting the four-strain vaccine?

“A: All of the nasal spray version sold in the U.S. this year will be this new variety, called FluMist Quadrivalent. The catch is that the nasal vaccine is only for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren’t pregnant.

“If you prefer a flu shot, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the four-strain kind is available. Younger children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions all can use flu shots. Four-strain versions are sold under the names Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent and FluLaval Quadrivalent.

“Manufacturers anticipate producing between 135 million and 139 million doses of flu vaccine this year. Only about 30 million doses will offer the four-strain protection.

“Q: Who should seek it?

“A: Type B flu tends to strike children more than the middle-aged, Poland noted. And he said it’s not a bad idea for seniors, who are more vulnerable to influenza in general. But the CDC doesn’t recommend one vaccine variety over another, and the American Academy of Pediatrics said either kind is fine — just get vaccinated.

“Q: How are these new vaccines different from the high-dose flu shot for seniors?

“A: Fluzone High-Dose protects against the traditional three strains of flu, but it quadruples the standard vaccine dose in an effort to rev up age-weakened immune systems don’t respond as actively to regular flu shots.

“The government calls the high-dose shot an option for seniors, not one that’s proved better. Last week, Sanofi Pasteur said initial results from a study of 30,000 seniors vaccinated over the past two flu seasons suggest the high-dose shot is about 24 percent more effective. Federal health officials will have to review the full study results to see if they agree.

“Q: What if I’m allergic to eggs?

“A: Traditional flu vaccine is made from viruses grown in eggs, and specialists say it’s usually not a problem unless someone has a serious egg allergy. But the new FluBlok vaccine eliminates that concern because it is made with cell technology, like many other nonflu vaccines. So far, it’s only for use in people ages 18 to 49.

“Q: What if I’m scared of needles?

“A: If you don’t qualify for the ouchless nasal spray vaccine, there is one shot made with a teeny-tiny needle that pricks the skin instead of muscle. Called Fluzone Intradermal, it’s available for 18- to 64-year-olds, and protects against the usual three strains.

“Q: How soon should I be vaccinated?

“A: Early fall is ideal, as it’s impossible to predict when flu will start spreading and it takes about two weeks for protection to kick in. But later isn’t too late; flu season typically peaks in January or February.

“Q: How much does flu vaccine cost?

“A: The vaccine is covered by insurance, and Medicare and some plans don’t require a copay. Drugstore vaccination programs tend to charge about $30; expect the quadrivalent versions to be slightly more expensive.”

My girls are not allowed to have the mist because they both tend to have lung issues. Walsh got the mist last year and did fine with it so he will probably have it again. My decision about getting flu shots is generally a question of which drug store or grocery store won’t charge me a copay to administer them. My pediatrician’s office charges the $30 copay for each child’s shot so I tend not to get them there.  (My pediatrician in Georgia didn’t charge a copay for the shots.)

So my question is would you hold off getting the flu shot seeking out the four-strain shot? Are you more concerned with copays as opposed to how many strains the shots are covering? When do you tend to get your shots? (I caught the flu very early last year before I even had a chance to get the shot.)

21 comments Add your comment

Mayhem

September 3rd, 2013
5:40 am

I’ve not had a flu shot in over 20 years. I did get the flu about 12 years ago, but not since then. I very rarely get sick. Obviously I’ve built up a great immune system. Lol.

A

September 3rd, 2013
6:14 am

I was not aware that there are different flu shots this year. I just take my child to the pediatrician for his well child visit each fall, and they do the shot there as part of the office visit co-pay. I’ve never had the flu shot since I work from home don’t encounter a lot of people on a daily basis. I do think it’s important for my child to get it since he’s at school and other activities and surrounded by who knows how many people.

Mother of 2

September 3rd, 2013
6:48 am

I will get the regular flu shot, and my kids will do the same. My son gets his at his pediatrician. My college age son will get it at school. I will get it from the leat expensive place. Even the 4 strain shot doesn’t give you 100% protection.

jarvis

September 3rd, 2013
7:00 am

Don’t know if it’s the unseasonably cool weather causing an early flu season or if we’re just unlucky.

3 weeks ago my 6-year-old was diagnosed with the flu. He was CHOA’s first of the season (we were informed that there is no prize for that). It was absolutely freaking miserable. Took him 6 days for the fever to break, and he wasn’t himself for about two weeks.

My kids have always gotten the flu vac and will continue to. Because he got it so early obviously we had not had him vaccinated yet. I’ve now seen the results of them not being innaculated, and it is awful! He was a pitiful pool of humanity.

Techmom

September 3rd, 2013
7:58 am

I work from home so I typically don’t get the shot either. Since my son is living in the dorms this year though, he will be getting it. I actually need to see if he can get it at the health center on campus or not.

motherjanegoose

September 3rd, 2013
8:16 am

Thanks for the reminder TWG. I get my shot when I am not going out of town, just in case I feel bad. I can do it next week. I get it at Walgreen’s and will try to go to my son’s store. I am going to ask him about the four strain. I just had my check up last week and my Doctor did not mention it to me at all.

ATL Born and Raised

September 3rd, 2013
8:38 am

Never had the flu and never used to get the shot, but my firm pays a company to come in and provide it to everyone who wants it free of charge on-site. No excuse not to take it under those circumstances.

jarvis

September 3rd, 2013
8:58 am

@ATL Born and Raised, no other reason then they are actually injecting you with a virus….or that it’s a mind control serum fed to us by the government…..or that’s it’s all pharmaceutical propoganda supported by the government….

ATL Born and Raised

September 3rd, 2013
9:06 am

@jarvis My corporate and government overlords are benevolent and worthy of my adulation. lol

The firm actually began providing flu shots a few years ago after one of the partners spread the flu to half the employees and everyone was out on sick leave and nothing got done for two weeks. A healthy staff equals profits. We sell time, after all.

Ann

September 3rd, 2013
9:49 am

Nice to at least see one of the medical experts admitting that the new 4 strain has no data yet to support it’s better. It would be nice to have actual trial data published and/or presented to the public before the vaccines are marketed. That way, parents could make an actual educated decision.

“Theoretically, four strains sounds better than three strains. We just don’t have data to support that that’s actually the case,” (Dr. Michael Brady of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and chairman of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the Academy

How did we let it get to this?

September 3rd, 2013
12:10 pm

motherjanegoose

September 3rd, 2013
1:27 pm

Just spoke with my son who is going to check if our insurance covers the four strain, for me. He says they can get it but is not sure if it is covered by our provider. I plan to get mine next week. Guess he can give it to me. I am not afraid of vaccines but have never had one administered by my son…haha!

I am pretty sure we do not have a co pay and if we do, it is $10.00.

TWG do you belong to Costco? I think they offer flu shots. Usually a good price. We stopped at a Costco near the PHX airport last month.

I was iffy about getting them…some years yes and some no. After a dear friend got very sick, I have gotten mine every year. She was in Kinder. I am in all sorts of schools with all sorts of germs. Plus on all sorts of airplanes. YES I get a vaccine.

Lyons

September 3rd, 2013
1:39 pm

I have no philosophical issue with vaccines… I’d rather not endure polio, smallpox, whooping cough, etc. That being said though, I don’t bother with flu shots, my head’s stuffed up enough from common allergies since I moved to Florida. Nothing like clogged sinuses to ward off viruses.

motherjanegoose

September 3rd, 2013
2:07 pm

@ Lyons….I had oodles of allergies in Texas and almost none here in Atlanta. The flip side is true for the rest of my family. Odd, for sure!

Young Lady

September 3rd, 2013
2:44 pm

I’ll be getting mine either next week or the week after. The copay is a non issue with me because the insurance covers it 100%.

I will be all afterschool PSA and say everyone that can should get one, but that’s because I’ve seen what a bad case of the flu can do. Hospitals, ventilators, months of recooperation, losing your job, etc.

Real Life

September 3rd, 2013
3:05 pm

I get a flu shot each year as I my elderly parent lives with us. And we are cautioned each year that the flu shot does not prevent all flu strains. So we get our shots and deal with it. I do not care about co-pay or free. It is worth the expense. Playing a version of Russian Roulette with your child’s health while waiting for a better vaccine is negligence.

Kat

September 3rd, 2013
4:29 pm

TechMom: Why can’t your son check with his college’s health center on his own? Seems like some over-protectiveness when he should be an adult?

catlady

September 3rd, 2013
5:22 pm

I’d prefer the most coverage, as I work in one of the places in the US with the highest viral/bacterial load–an elementary school serving less affluent (75% free lunch) students, who are often sent to school sick. However, I will follow my doctor’s advice. I will see him Saturday.

catlady

September 3rd, 2013
5:26 pm

I had the flu in January/February 1988. I begged for death, and called my children in and said goodbye. Never had the shot before; cannot imagine doing without it, especially since I have several challenging “health conditions.”

Bee Hive Haired cashier at Dooleys Den

September 3rd, 2013
6:26 pm

I’m more worried about

Misty

September 4th, 2013
9:47 am

I’ve had the flu twice and I’m sure I got the flu shot as a child. However, as an adult, I don’t get them. CDC says there is a 50/50 chance of them not working anyways. I don’t have kids and I actually see it as a time to rest if I get the flu, lol!

If you work around the public a lot or with children, then yes, please get your shot! I’d also recommend getting the children their shots. I know of several people who won’t get their children vaccinated and probably won’t get them their flu shots, either. I’ve heard rumblings of measles in Texas and some other plague in CA or out west.