Flu season is right around the corner. In fact, most seasonal flu activity typically occurs between October and May and Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and February. Every year, vaccine manufacturers arrive at the year’s flu vaccine based on what research suggests will be the most common flu strains during the upcoming season and the timing of vaccine availability depends on when production is completed. Currently, six influenza vaccine manufacturers are projecting that as many as 171 million to 179 million doses of influenza vaccine will be available for use in the United States during the 2015-2016 influenza season. There are currently six types of seasonal influenza vaccines distributed during flu season and of those types, you will have eleven to choose from.
1. Standard dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine which contains three killed virus strains and is injected. This vaccine is indicated in individuals 6 months of age or older, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions. The standard dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccines currently available are Afluria®, Fluvirin®, and Fluzone® (Trivalent).
2. High dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine which also contains three killed virus strains and is injected but contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in the person getting the vaccine. This vaccine is indicated for individuals 65 years of age or older. The only high dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine currently available is Fluzone High®.
3. Trivalent recombinant influenza vaccine indicated for individuals between the ages of 18 and 49 years. The only trivalent recombinant influenza vaccine currently available is FluBlok®.
4. Standard dose quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccine which contains four killed virus strains and is also injected. This vaccine is indicated in individuals 6 months of age or older, including healthy people and those with chronic medical conditions. The standard dose quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccines currently available are Fluarix®, FluLaval®, Fluzone® (quadrivalent) and Fluzone® (intradermal quadrivalent).
5. Quadrivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine contains four live virus strains and is a nasal spray. This vaccine is indicated for healthy, non-pregnant persons aged 2-49 years. The only quadrivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine currently available is FluMist®.
6. Cell-culture based inactivated influenza vaccine is indicted for individuals who are 18 years of age and older. ‘Cell-based’ refers to how the flu vaccine is made. Cell-based flu vaccines are made by growing viruses in animal cells. Cell-based flu vaccines are developed through a different manufacturing process than the traditional egg-based manufacturing process that is used to develop flu vaccines. Cell-based influenza vaccines are similar to the egg-based influenza vaccines, but a significant difference is that the influenza A and B viruses included in the cell-based vaccine are grown in cultured cells of mammalian origin instead of in hens’ eggs. The only cell-culture based inactivated influenza vaccine currently available is Flucelvax®.
If you opt to receive the flu shot this season, there is certainly no shortage of options. In addition, there are preventative measures you can take every day to prevent getting the flu, like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs. Also, if you unfortunately come down with the flu, in addition to staying home from work or school to prevent spreading flu to others, you should contact your doctor to see if you can be treated with an antiviral medication. To quote Ben Franklin, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you think you or someone you know has been injured by a vaccine, compensation for the injury may be available. To find out if you qualify to file a case under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program click and let the vaccine litigation experts at RawlsMcNelis provide the answers.