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New strain of influenza vaccine is available

By Susan Sinju

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25 2013 5:15 p.m. MDT

Stock of the flu vaccine at Rite Aid Pharmacy in Murray Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012. A new strain of the influenza vaccine is available at Salt Lake County clinics, including city clinics in the downtown area and retail pharmacies.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

A new strain of the influenza vaccine is available now at Salt Lake County clinics including city clinics in the downtown area and S.E. Public Clinic in Sandy, according to Sharon Moon, immunization coordinator with the Salt Lake Valley Health Department. It is a four-strain vaccine, also called a quadrivalent vaccine.

Quadrivalent vaccine is also available in retail pharmacies in the Salt Lake Valley.

There are two types of the influenza vaccine, Moon said.

The new type of the influenza vaccine is a quadrivalent, meaning it has four viruses combined into one vaccine. It has two types of influenza A viruses and two types of influenza B viruses combined to make a vaccine. The cost is roughly $31, but most insurance plans cover the cost, while some have a co-pay.

The other type of the influenza vaccine is a trivalent vaccine. It provides a little less protection because it only includes three viruses but because those three viruses are the most common, it's still decent protection. It contains two types of influenza A viruses and one type of the influenza B virus and the cost is roughly $25.

"The Centers for Disease Control want people to get the flu vaccine as soon as it's available," said Moon. "It's the only protection against the flu virus."

The shot is given to babies as young as 6 months. At that age, two doses are given; the first dose is given at 6 months, the second at 8 months.

Children can take the flu vaccine with other childhood vaccinations.

Janet Timothy, an employee with Utah Property Management Association, gets the flu shot every year, and she says it never makes her sick.

A person will need to decide which vaccine he or she wants. Only one vaccine is given a year, either the quadrivalent or trivalent vaccine. And both vaccines can't be taken at the same time.

People who suffer from HIV infection or who are receiving cancer treatments should consult their primary care physician before taking flu vaccine, Moon said.

Most retail pharmacies in the Salt Lake Valley are giving the flu vaccine now, including Rite Aid, Smith's and Walgreens.

Walgreens is giving quadrivalent and intra-nasal flu vaccines. Intra-nasal is given through the nostrils, and it's a live virus, according to one Walgreens pharmacist, who added that those type of vaccines are a "bit expensive."

Flu vaccines given at retail pharmacies all include H1N1/swine flu vaccines.

Flu vaccines can be taken with the common cold. If any pain, aches or tiredness are felt, a pain reliever can help. For more information, visit CDC.gov.

Susan Wanji Sinju is a journalism graduate from BYU and gets a flu shot every year.

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