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Q: Should I get a flu shot this year?

Posted October 23, 2013 in Advice Column, Pleasant Hill

A: This year, there is ample supply of vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone older than 6 months should get vaccinated. There are high-risk patients who should get vaccinated yearly against the influenza virus to prevent serious complications. These include children ages 6 months to 5 years of age, all people older than 50, adults and children who have chronic medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, heart, kidney or liver disease or blood disorders, people with a compromised immune system, women who will be pregnant during flu season, residents of care facilities and those who care for these people.

This year there are several choices for flu vaccine. The traditional vaccine provides protection against three strains of the influenza virus. There is also a high-dose formula for individuals older than 65. There are studies that suggest the standard dose of the influenza vaccine does not work as well in the older population. This year there will also be a quadravalent formula that will protect against four strains of influenza. There is a needle-free nasal spray option for certain individuals who qualify for its use. An egg-free option is also available for those with allergies.

For those individuals who would rather avoid vaccines, there are options. There is a homeopathic alternative to the flu shot. There are several supplements that can boost the immune system. Your pharmacist or doctor can help decide which option is right for you.

Information provided by Jen Alexander, Pharm.D, pharmacy manager, NuCara Pharmacy, 4927 Maple Drive, Pleasant Hill, 515-264-1503.

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