Flu Shots: What’s the Difference?
It’s that time of year again – flu shot season! As you get ready to go get your flu shot, you may be confused by all the different options. Trivalent? Quadrivalent? High dose? How can you decide which vaccine to receive?
Types of Flu Vaccinations
- Trivalent – This is the “traditional” or “standard” flu shot. It contains 3 strains of the influenza virus: two influenza A strains and one influenza B strain. Trivalent flu shots are approved for use in children 6 months of age and older.
- Quadrivalent – The quadrivalent flu vaccine contains 4 strains of the influenza virus: two influenza A strains and two influenza B strains. The quadrivalent vaccination is available as a shot or as a nasal spray. The shot can be used in patients 6 months of age and older. The nasal spray is only approved for use in patients ages 2-49.
- High Dose – The high dose influenza vaccination is a trivalent shot that contains 4 times the amount of antigen than the standard trivalent flu shot. This vaccine is only approved for use in patients 65 years of age and older.
Which Flu Shot is Right for You?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is part of the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services. Its purpose is to serve as the nation’s health protection agency. The CDC is the organization that makes recommendations about who should receive vaccinations and when the vaccinations should be administered. Currently, the CDC recommends that every one 6 months of age or older receives the trivalent flu shot. The only preference the CDC makes in its recommendations is that children ages 2-8 receive the quadrivalent nasal spray. All other patients should receive any flu vaccine.
You may be wondering why the quadrivalent and high dose flu shots are available if they are not currently recommended by the CDC. The reason for this is because they are still effective against the flu virus. The quadrivalent contains 3 strains that are the exact same as those in the trivalent, plus an additional influenza B strain. The high dose produces a higher antibody response in patients over 65 years then the standard trivalent flu shot. One study showed that the higher immune response led to an increase in effectiveness, but there was also an increase in vaccine side effects. This study did not lead to any changes in the CDC’s recommendations and more studies are needed to confirm these findings. There is no data on the quadrivalent flu shot being any more effective than the trivalent flu shot. Both the quadrivalent and high dose shots are more expensive than the trivalent flu shot.
In conclusion, the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from the flu is to receive any flu shot. The CDC currently recommends that patients 6 months of age and older receive the trivalent vaccine and children ages 2-8 receive the quadrivalent nasal spray.
Visit Health Park Pharmacy to receive your flu shot today!
For additional information about the flu vaccine from the CDC, please click here.