New Flu Vaccine This Season

Boston Children's Hospital is offering a new flu vaccine that covers all flu strains.

Syringe image via shutterstock

Syringe image via shutterstock

Boston Children’s Hospital announced last week that it will be offering a new flu vaccine this year, called a quadrivalent vaccine, that will help prevent all kinds of flu strains.

Scientists are currently aware of four different types of the flu virus circulating at any given time; two strains of an A virus and two strains of a B virus. Previously, flu vaccines have been trivalent, meaning that they only prevented against three strains; typically both A strains and only one B strain. This new quadrivalent vaccine, however, is designed to protect against both B strains as well as both A strains. All four strains circulate the globe constantly so scientists can never predict which strain will become most prevalent during any given year. This all-encompassing vaccine takes care of that uncertainty, but it is by no means a universal cure.

Dr. Thomas Sandora of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s Hospital said in a blog post last week:

“It’s a step forward, but I wouldn’t call it a big step. We need to see how much of an impact this extra strain will provide because flu vaccines are only about 60 percent effective to begin with.”

But still, getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself now.

The CDC projects that 135-139 million shots will be administered this flu season, but only 30-32 million doses of this quadrivalent vaccine will be available.

As a result, not all hospitals, clinics, and drug stores may carry the new quadrivalent vaccine, but Sandora advises not waiting for them to get a shipment in.

“It’s more important to receive any vaccine instead of one over the other. You want to receive your vaccine before the flu season begins, so whatever your pediatrician or vaccine clinic has, just get it.”