If you dislike needles and you fall into the right age group, you may be able to ask for a more tolerable option
Flu shots are here, there is plenty of vaccine available this year, and Yale Medical Group doctors are encouraging all patients to get vaccinated.
“We make a special effort to make sure everyone is vaccinated,” says Peter Ellis, MD, an internist with Yale Internal Medicine Associates, adding that even if you’re not at high risk, chances are you interact with someone who is, such as a child, a pregnant woman or someone with a compromised immune system.
“It’s a safe vaccine, and certainly the benefits outweigh the risks—anyone who has had the flu will tell you it’s miserable. Most of my patients who have had the flu remember it, and they’re converts,” Dr. Ellis says.
Peter Ellis, MD
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more Americans have been getting the vaccine in the past few years, which may be a response to the H1N1 pandemic two years ago. This year, one shot will protect against the same three strains of the flu that were in the 2010-2011 vaccine. These include one type A (H1N1), one type A (H3N2), and one type B virus.
This flu season brings a new option for people who are 65 and older. The Fluzone vaccine is a high dose flu shot designed to give older people more protection. In addition, for people 18 to 64, there is an intra-dermal injection that uses an ultra-fine needle only 1.5 mm long, injected into the skin instead of the muscle. So anyone who hates needles may find it easier to tolerate than a standard flu shot.
While most vaccines are still injected, healthy people age 2 to 49 years can request an alternative nasal spray live attenuated influenza vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2011-12 recommendations are similar to last year:
The vaccination is important because the consequences of influenza can be severe. The illness causes an estimated 200,000 hospitalizations and between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths in a typical year, according to the CDC. In addition to getting a flu shot, the CDC recommends using everyday preventive measures, such as hand washing and covering your mouth when you cough. If you do get the flu, talk to your doctor about antiviral drugs such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) to help reduce the risk of complications.