Influenza Vaccine Options 2019-2020 Season

Annual vaccination is the best way to prevent flu. The vaccine is updated annually to protect against the influenza strains most likely to circulate each season. Even in cases when vaccination does not prevent infection completely, it can reduce the severity of the disease and prevent the most serious complications of flu, including hospitalization and death.

There are several types of flu vaccines offered at many convenient locations, including physician offices, public health departments, drug and retail stores, workplaces, and schools. Many insurance plans pay for annual flu vaccination. Individuals covered by Medicare Part B can get the flu vaccine at no cost (no co-pay, no deductible). Health experts say all flu vaccines provide protection, so do not delay if your first choice of vaccine is not available.

What kinds of flu vaccines are available?

CDC recommends use of any licensed, age-appropriate influenza (flu) vaccine during the 2019-2020 influenza season. Options include inactivated influenza vaccine [IIV], recombinant influenza vaccine [RIV], or live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV). Different vaccines are licensed for different age groups, and some vaccines are not recommended for some groups of people. But where more than one suitable vaccine is available, no preference is expressed for any influenza flu vaccine over another.

Both trivalent (three-component) and quadrivalent (four-component) flu vaccines will be available for 2019-2020. Most vaccines will be quadrivalent.

Trivalent flu vaccines include:

  • A high-dose trivalent flu shot, approved for people 65 years and older, which contains a higher dose of antigen (the part of the virus the immune system develops antibodies against), to help create a stronger immune response.
  • A trivalent flu shot made with adjuvant, (an ingredient that helps create a stronger immune response), approved for people 65 years and older.

Quadrivalent flu vaccines include:

  • Standard-dose quadrivalent flu shots without adjuvant that are manufactured using virus grown in eggs. Several different brands of this type of flu shot are available, and they are approved for different age groups. Some are approved for children as young as 6 months of age. Most flu shots are given in the arm (muscle) with a needle. One quadrivalent flu shot can be given either with a needle (for people aged 6 months and older) or with a jet injector (for people aged 18 through 64 years only).
  • A quadrivalent cell-based flu shot containing virus grown in cell culture, which is approved for people 4 years and older.
  • A recombinant quadrivalent flu shot (a flu shot that is made without influenza viruses or eggs) approved for people 18 years and older.
  • A quadrivalent live attenuated influenza nasal spray vaccine (LAIV4) made with attenuated (weakened) live flu viruses, approved for use in people 2 years through 49 years of age. This vaccine is not recommended for use in pregnancy or for use among people with some specific medical conditions.

Influenza vaccine should be used with caution in anyone with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 6 weeks following a previous influenza vaccine dose.

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September 2019