Health Team

Three flu vaccines are available. Get one now, doctors say

Posted September 29, 2020 6:15 a.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2020 9:37 a.m. EDT

Medical experts say now more than ever is the best time to get vaccinated to prevent the flu.

This year, there are new flu vaccine options for all ages and for those at highest risk of the infection.

Raleigh Urgent Care physician Dr. Allen Mask said people should get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"I think the ideal time is during the month of September and during the month of October," he said. "It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to kick in, and it lasts about six months."

Mask said there are now three vaccine options. The quadrivalent injectable vaccine contains two strains of influenza type A and two strains of influenza type B. It’s the classic vaccine that most people ages 6 months and older should get.

The high dose form of the vaccine for those over age 65 contains the same strains, but with more of a boost for the immune system. "It contains about four times more of the antigen, the substance that stimulates the immune system to fight the virus," said Mask.

For those who want to avoid the needle, the nasal spray vaccine is an option, but only for those ages 2 to 49. Unlike the other forms of the vaccine, which use a dead form of the flu virus, the nasal spray contains a weakened live virus. For that reason, it is not recommended for pregnant women.

Mask said enough lives have been lost to COVID-19 and we shouldn’t allow the flu to take even more.

"The flu is a serious condition," he said. "Some 80,000 people died in this country alone from the flu last year. We want to be able to put one thing to bed — the flu. And if we can do that now, our best option is getting that shot," he said.

Flu vaccine effectiveness varies year to year but, according to the CDC, recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness between 40 to 60%. If you do get the shot and later experience flu symptoms, the vaccine will likely lessen the severity of symptoms.

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