DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I’ve read that there will be new options for getting the flu vaccine this year, including one for people who have egg allergies. How are these new vaccines different, and how do I know which one to pick? How do researchers know they will be safe?
ANSWER: You’re right. Beginning this year, several new vaccine options will be offered to help protect you against influenza, or the flu. Rather than just two options, you now will have a range of vaccines from which to choose. At first, having so many choices may be confusing. But by doing a little research and having a conversation with your health care provider, you will be able to decide which one is best for your situation. As always, each of the new vaccines has gone through rigorous safety testing before being made available to the public.
Influenza is a respiratory infection that can lead to serious complications, particularly in young children and older adults. Getting the flu vaccine is the most effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months of age or older be vaccinated against influenza every year.
Until this year, you only had two options when it came to picking the kind of flu vaccine you wanted: a shot or a nasal mist. The shot contains an inactivated vaccine made of killed virus. The nasal mist has a low dose of live -- but weakened -- flu viruses. Both options included three strains of influenza virus.
With the new vaccines, the two delivery options of a shot or a nasal mist stay the same, but now you’ll have more choices if you decide to get the vaccine as a shot. Shot options include the standard vaccine with three strains of flu virus; a new four-strain vaccine; two egg-free options; a high-dose flu shot; and a shot into the skin instead of beneath the skin.