Saturday, September 28, 2013

New Flu Vaccine Might Offer More Protection

Jeffrey Kopman Published: Sep 3, 2013, 0:32 PM EDT

The unofficial end of summer just passed, which means flu season is almost here.
This year, a new quadrivalent flu vaccine will be available. It could offer more protection from the flu, making this season the first in more than 30 years to offer children and adults an alternative vaccine to the traditional trivalent vaccine.
The trivalent vaccine protects against three flu strains: The Type A strains H1N1 and H3N2, and one strain of Type B. The new quadrivalent vaccine protects against four flu strains: The normal three strains as well as an additional Type B strain.
But it might not be worth it for everyone to hold out for the new vaccine. Early September is the time for children older than six months to be vaccinated, according to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Children should be vaccinated as soon as possible, the AAP states, even if the quadrivalent vaccine is not immediately available. But the organization did acknowledge that the new vaccine might offer improved protection.
Ultimately, vaccinating vulnerable groups of people — such as children and seniors — as soon as possible should be more of a priority than deciding between the new vaccine and the traditional vaccine, experts say.
“Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to obtain a specific vaccine,” said pediatrician Henry Bernstein, DO, FAAP, the lead author of the flu recommendations, in a press release. “Influenza virus is unpredictable, and what’s most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they will be protected when the virus begins circulating.”
Children older than nine need only one dose of either vaccine per flu season. Children between the ages of six months and eight years old should receive two doses if they have not been vaccinated in previous years, according to the recommendations.
The 2012-2013 flu season was considered relatively severe due to a total of 12,343 flu-related hospitalizations — despite a moderately effective vaccine — according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This year, the CDC has yet to predict how severe the season will be, or how well this year's flu shot will fight infection. Still, the CDC also recommends all people over the age of six months receive vaccinations, especially those over the age of 65.

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