Stronger flu vaccine fighting off flu virus in East Texas one strain at a time

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A new flu vaccine is about to hit pharmacy shelves and pharmacists say the high dose shot is likely to knock the traditional shot out of the ballpark. But because the new vaccine is uncommon, some pharmacies say they aren't even sure if they will offer it and if they do…it won't be for long.

The quadrivalent shot is a four-in-one vaccine that is promising a new age of flu protection.

"The quadrivalent just adds an extra strain. They're different strains of the flu virus and the added benefit of a quadrivalent is just having that extra strain," Sarah Adams, the Angelina County Health District Infectious Disease Director, said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the traditional flu vaccine has offered protection against three influenza strains. But the new quadrivalent vaccine will not only add the California A, Victoria A and Massachusetts B strains, but the Brisbane B.

They will be called the Fluzone Quadrivalent, which is for 6 months and up, FluLavel Quadrivalent, which is 3 years and older and the FluMist, which is 2 to 49.

"They're different strains of the flu virus and when the world health organizations gets together on the annual basis they try to determine what strains to put into the flu vaccine to offer the best protection," Adams says.

Adams says this year those quadrivalent strains were determined to be the best form of protection against the flu virus.

But Buford Abeldt, a pharmacist for Abeldt's Pharmacy in Lufkin, says he hasn't heard much about the new vaccine but believes he will only be getting the intranasal form.

"The fact of the matter is we've depended on the injection all these years and it worked. The intranasal seems to still be relatively new and uncommon," Abeldt said.

Despite a new strain, the vaccine will act exactly like the traditional vaccine.

"The benefit is we just inject deactivated antibodies into the body and the body produces its own antibodies to fight off the flu, so you may have the flu but it won't be as bad of a case," Abeldt said.

So just think of it as another little soldier fighting for your immune system. Yet, there's still the question of whether or not the vaccine is even worth it.

"What actually happens is they have pre-exposure and so they get the flu shot vaccine and they think 'oh, the flu shot actually gave me the flu,' and that's not true. They were already pre-exposed and the flu shot actually takes 2 weeks to take effect," Adams said.

"The biggest misconception is that you're going to get the flu. You're not going to get the flu. You might get some symptoms but you're probably not going to get the flu," Abeldt said. "You will not get the flu from the flu vaccine because it's an inactivated virus."

Adams says it is recommended that all healthy adults get their flu shot.

"A healthy adult may get the flu and they maybe are able to fight it and they will be a carrier to someone whose immune system doesn't respond as quickly to fight off the flu," Adams said.

The Angelina County Health District will be offering trivalent and quadrivalent immunizations at their annual drive thru October 3rd for $25.Traditional flu shots are currently being offered at the Abeldt's Pharmacy for $30 and Walgreens is offering the trivalent for $32 and the quadrivalent immunization for $40. That is without insurance.

KTRE asked CVS Pharmacy if they will be offering the quadrivalent form of the vaccine and they said they will not. But they are offering the traditional shot for $31.00.

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