5 On Your Side

Young, old have options outside the standard flu shot

Posted November 25

Flu season typically peaks in winter, which makes autumn the best time to get vaccinated. The latest guidance suggests that the health and age of the patient can determine which vaccine is most effective.

The nasal vaccine FluMist, which has been popular with younger children and those who prefer to avoid needles, is not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this year.

"In the last three years, FluMist offered little if any protection against the flu in children between the ages of 2 and 17," said Dr. Orly Avitzur, Consumer Reports medical director.

In children got a shot instead, it was 63 percent effective at preventing the flu.
 
Adults ages 18 to 64 have the option of a smaller needle that only pierces the skin, which should be less painful than the traditional shot injected into the muscle.

And there are new formulations for people 65 and over to consider. Research shows their immune system may not be as responsive as those who are younger.

Fluzone High Dose is four times stronger than the normal vaccine. Another type, Fluad, boosts older people's immune system response.

A doctor can recommend the best option based on health and age of each patient, but they agree that it's best to get vaccinated before flu season peaks. It takes about two weeks to build up immunity.

The standard vaccine is free under most insurance plans and Medicare with no co-pay or deductible.

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