The 2013 flu shot: What’s new and why get it now

Heart attack protection, egg-free formula and more

flu-shotNow is a great time to roll up your sleeve because the flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick in, says Dr. Pamela  Rockwell, D.O., a family physician at the University of Michigan Health System who is fellowship-trained in vaccine science. Everyone 6 months of age and older is recommended to get their yearly flu vaccine, ideally by October.

More must-know flu season information

Some of this year’s vaccine covers more strains.  New this year, many vaccines cover four strains of flu — the ones believed to be the most common in the upcoming flu season — but some include just three. Translation: broader protection. One vaccine isn’t recommended over another. The important thing is to get a flu vaccine every year.

Protection against heart attacks? A flu shot greatly reduces the risk of being hospitalized or dying from flu complications, plus new research shows flu vaccine may lessen the risk of heart attack. As reported online in Heart, those who were vaccinated were 45% less likely to have an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Egg-free, smaller needles

Brand new this year: a completely egg-free formulation:  Flublok is available to adults ages 18-49, and is recommended for those with a severe anaphylactic egg allergy.

Afraid of needles? The intradermal flu vaccine uses a very fine needle that is 90% smaller than the needles used for regular flu shots. This shot is injected into the superficial skin instead of the deeper muscle and preferred by some patients.

No, the vaccine doesn’t make you sick! All flu vaccines that are administered with a needle are made with ‘inactivated’ virus and are therefore not infectious, and some vaccines are made with no viruses at all. The nasal spray flu vaccine does contain a small amount of live viruses. However, the viruses are weakened and completely safe for those with normal immune systems.

Where can I get a flu shot?

Visit the Flu Shots page on UofMHealth.org to find out where you can go to roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated.

University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Logo - blueThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the top ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.