YNN News reports this morning that Highland Hospital has begun the mass immunization of its employees against seasonal influenza. The Rochester, NY, hospital joins most health care facilities in requiring its employees receive protection from the flu each year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend that everyone over the age of six months receive an annual vaccination, with a few exceptions. They recommend that all health care workers be vaccinated.
The CDC reveals that patients have never had more choices in both the flu vaccine formula and in the method of administration. There are 13 brand names approved for use in 2013-2014. Some cover three strains of the influenza virus while others cover four. The vaccine can be injected with a standard syringe, micro-injected, or administered as a nasal spray. There is a brand intended for patients over age 65 and at-risk patients that provides a high dose of the vaccine.
The four strain formula, quadrivalent flu vaccine, for the influenza vaccine was introduced late in last year's flu season. It is now widely available and provides protection against two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. The formula adds protection against a second, commonly occurring B strain virus.
There is one brand that provides an intradermal flu vaccine. This injection uses a smaller syringe and is injected into the skin rather than the muscle. It uses less antigen but is as effective in providing immunization. It comes as a prefilled microinjection.
The patient profile for the nasal spray influenza vaccine is a patient between ages 2 and 50, who is in good health and not pregnant. All the brands are quadrivalent flu vaccines, covering two A strains and two B strains. This formula is the only "live" virus vaccine, but the virus had been designed to die outside the nose. It does not give you influenza.
Most of the supply this year will be trivalent influenza vaccines, reminds the CDC. They are supplied in single dose syringes and in multi-dose vials. The multi-dose vials contain a preservative called thimerosal to prevent the growth of bacteria or fungus in the vaccine once the vial is opened. None of the other formulations contain a preservative.
Patients allergic to eggs have a safe alternative to traditional flu vaccines this year. One brand, Flucelvax, is made using cell-based method and not by using eggs. It is a trivalent influenza vaccine.
Patients wanting the greatest choice in flu vaccines should talk to their physician right away. Supplies of some brands and formulas will be limited. The industry tells the CDC that it plans to make 135 to 139 million doses of influenza vaccine in total. As of Sept. 13, 61.8 million does of vaccine have been distributed.