Dr. K Gets Her Flu Shot!

The Flu vaccine came late to our office this season, but we are now administering the vaccine to patients of all ages. We are offering the injectable flu vaccine and FluMist, the inhalation version for those older than 2 and free of asthma or reactive airway disease.

There are two types of influenza vaccines this season: Trivalent and Quadrivalent. While they are both effective, the Quadrivalent vaccine includes 4 strains of flu virus, making it easier to offer protection against  both the A and B types of virus, while the Trivalent vaccine includes only 3 strains. The manufactures of the Quadrivalent vaccine experienced some difficulties in distribution, causing the delay. Some pharmacies and distributors in the Austin area reached for the readily available Trivalent vaccine in order to provide customers with a vaccine early in the season; others obtained the vaccine from manufactures outside of the United States.  We decided to wait for the Quadrivalent version to be available, to insure our patients would have the increased protection it offers.

Would you play the Lottery if the odds were this good?

Many parents share concerns about the effectiveness of the flu vaccine and the “matching” process for this season’s strains. While it is impossible to exactly predict which viruses will predominate at a given season, the selection of the strains to include in the vaccine is not a random one. The CDC studies samples of viruses circulating for the season and publish how effective the vaccine has been at the end of the season. Preliminary estimates can also be found at any given time, considering the limited data available at the time of publication.  Even when the Vaccine Effectiveness is low, say 60%, what it means is that the vaccine still reduces the chances of getting sick by 60%.  I would play the lottery if I knew I could have 60% favorable chance!

Even when the vaccine strains are not exactly the ones circulating, we have learned that antibodies against one flu virus can provide protection against different related viruses.  Getting vaccinated every season exposes the immune system to different strains every season and the protection can cross-react even when facing a new strain.

Protecting the weak, the elderly, and children from the flu virus

The protection provided by the flu vaccine goes beyond the individual and becomes a public health benefit. Those who receive the vaccine have a decreased chance of getting sick, and a decreased chance of becoming a host to pass the virus to those who can’t receive the vaccine due to illness, those with a weak immune system, people receiving chemotherapy and babies who are too young to be vaccinated.

With the holidays coming, enjoy hosting family gatherings without being a host for the flu. Protect your family and protect children, the elderly, and your co-workers around you. Call our office to get your entire family vaccinated! We are located in Round Rock, convenient to North Austin, Cedar Park, Plugerville and surrounding areas.

Keep your family healthy during the holidays! Call 733-5437 to book an appointment for flu shots!

About the Author

Dr. Katalenas

Dr. Katalenas is a pediatrician and owner of The Pediatric Center of Round Rock and the author of the book "The Step Up Diet: From Scratch… The Quality, Quantity, and Timing Solution to Childhood Obesity", a guide to healthy cooking and eating for busy families.