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Which Flu Vaccine Is Right for You?


With the end of summer comes a new (lovely) beginning: flu season. And this week, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are back with a familiar message to roll up you sleeve. The good news: If the mere thought of rolling up your sleeve makes you cringe, you've got options. That's right, the days of letting your fears keep you from a vaccination are over.

Last year, fewer than 50 percent of Americans made an appointment for the flu vaccine, but now there are more options available than ever. So it's time to change that stat. Here, the best flu shot for you—depending on your circumstances, fears, family life, and more.

If You're Afraid of Needles
Opt for: an intradermal shot
“I’ve had the intradermal vaccine before, and it’s virtually painless,” confirms Susan Rehm, M.D., vice chair of the department of infectious disease at the Cleveland Clinic. The intradermal shot, called Fluzone ID, uses a shorter needle, and therefore results in little discomfort. But, she adds, no shot is totally ouch-free—all of them can cause soreness and redness at the injection sight for a couple of days following the injection.

If You're Pregnant
Opt for: any shot
Getting vaccinated while you’re pregnant will protect you and your baby-to-be from the flu, especially important since you’re both at higher risk of complications right now. And getting vaccinated during pregnancy will protect the baby until he or she is able to get the flu vaccine at age six months. Rehm says any form of the shot will do. But avoid the nasal spray vaccine—it contains the live virus and hasn’t been approved for use during pregnancy.

RELATED: Your Brain On: Cold and Flu

If You Have Kids
Opt for: a nasal spray
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices typically declines to give preferential vaccination recommendations, but for the first time ever, they’ve released a statement saying the nasal spray vaccine, called FluMist, has been proven to be more effective than a shot for children age two to eight. (As long as you’re under 50 years old and not pregnant or asthmatic, you can get it along with your kids—it’s quadrivalent, which means it protects against four strains of flu rather than the usual three, and is pain-free.)

If You're Allergic to Eggs
Opt for: a recombinant or cell-based shot
Ask your healthcare professional about a recombinant or cell-based shot. These types are created using viruses grown using DNA technology (Flublok) or animal cells (Flucelvax) respectively, not hens’ eggs like the traditional shot. That means they’re safe for those with severe egg allergies. (Rehm says that people with less-extreme intolerances and sensitivities to eggs can get the traditional shot. That said, many prefer to stay safe and choose one of the above types.)


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