The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Food & Health

September 4, 2013

Some vaccines promise a little more protection

WASHINGTON (AP) — Flu vaccination is no longer merely a choice between a jab in the arm or a squirt in the nose. This fall, some brands promise a little extra protection.

For the first time, certain vaccines will guard against four strains of flu rather than the usual three. Called quadrivalent vaccines, these brands may prove more popular for children than their parents. That’s because kids tend to catch the newly added strain more often.

These four-in-one vaccines are so new that they’ll make up only a fraction of the nation’s supply of flu vaccine, so if you want a dose, better start looking early.

But that’s only one of an unprecedented number of flu vaccine options available this year.

Allergic to eggs? Egg-free shots are hitting the market, too.

Plus there’s growing interest in shots brewed just for the 65-and-older crowd, and a brand that targets the needle-phobic with just a skin-deep prick.

“We’re moving away from the one-size-fits-all to choosing the best possible vaccine for an individual’s age and condition,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, an infectious disease specialist at the Mayo Clinic.

“The flip side of that,” he said, is that “this will be a confusing year” as doctors and consumers alike try to choose.

Federal health officials recommend a yearly flu vaccine for nearly everyone, starting at 6 months of age. On average, about 24,000 Americans die each flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some questions and answers about the different vaccine varieties to choose from:

Q: What’s the difference between those new four-strain vaccines and the regular kind?

A: For more than 30 years, the vaccine has offered protection against three influenza strains — two common Type A strains called H1N1 and H3N2, and one strain of Type B. Flu strains continually evolve, and the recipe for each year’s vaccine includes the subtypes of those strains that experts consider most likely to cause illness that winter.

Type A flu causes more serious disease and deaths, especially the H3N2 form that made last year such a nasty flu season. But the milder Type B flu does sicken people every year as well, and can kill. Two distinct Type B families circulate the globe, making it difficult to know which to include in each year’s vaccine. Adding both solves the guesswork, and a CDC model estimates it could prevent as many as 485 deaths a year depending on how much Type B flu is spreading.

Q: How can I tell if I’m getting the four-strain vaccine?

A: All of the nasal spray version sold in the U.S. this year will be this new variety, called FluMist Quadrivalent. The catch is that the nasal vaccine is only for healthy people ages 2 to 49 who aren’t pregnant.

If you prefer a flu shot, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the four-strain kind is available. Younger children, older adults, pregnant women and people with chronic health conditions all can use flu shots. Four-strain versions are sold under the names Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent and FluLaval Quadrivalent.

Manufacturers anticipate producing between 135 million and 139 million doses of flu vaccine this year. Only about 30 million doses will offer the four-strain protection.

Q: How are these new vaccines different from the high-dose flu shot for seniors?

A: Fluzone High-Dose protects against the traditional three strains of flu, but it quadruples the standard vaccine dose in an effort to rev up age-weakened immune systems don’t respond as actively to regular flu shots.

The government calls the high-dose shot an option for seniors, not one that’s proved better. Last week, Sanofi Pasteur said initial results from a study of 30,000 seniors vaccinated over the past two flu seasons suggest the high-dose shot is about 24 percent more effective. Federal health officials will have to review the full study results to see if they agree.

Q: What if I’m allergic to eggs?

A: Traditional flu vaccine is made from viruses grown in eggs, and specialists say it’s usually not a problem unless someone has a serious egg allergy.

1
Text Only
Food & Health
  • USDA orders farms to report pig virus infections MILWAUKEE -- Farms stricken with a deadly pig virus must report outbreaks as part of a new program to help monitor and possibly control the spread of the disease, the federal government announced Friday. Porcine epidemic diarrhea has killed millions

    April 19, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Study: Diabetic heart attacks and strokes falling

    In the midst of the diabetes epidemic, a glimmer of good news: Heart attacks, strokes and other complications from the disease are plummeting.

    Over the last two decades, the rates of heart attacks and strokes among diabetics fell by more than 60 percent, a new federal study shows. The research also confirms earlier reports of drastic declines in diabetes-related kidney failure and amputations.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • 4-15-14 Asparagus photo Make asparagus the center of your plate Asparagus has been a delicious symbol of spring since at least as far back as the Greeks, who called it asparagos -- literally, "to spring up." But however it is spelled, it makes me happy. Most grocers sell asparagus in a range of sizes, from thin a

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Floating stools not alarming DEAR DR. ROACH: I have read that whether stools float or sink could be an indication of one's health, even to the point of being an early sign of pancreatic cancer. Isn't it just about density and gas -- that is, doesn't most food we eat float in wat

    April 15, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.