New four-strain flu shots now available

September 3, 2013 (CHICAGO)

For the first time, certain vaccines will guard against four strains of the flu rather than the usual three.

Tuesday was the first time the pharmacy at University of Illinois and Health Science System is offering the new four-strain flu vaccine. This new vaccine contains four times the usual dose and helps boost the immune system response to flu, so one is better protected from the illness. UIC pharmacist Christine Carrizales wanted to get the new four-strain vaccine for herself.

"It was the most updated one, and I wanted to be covered for everything. And if something is on the market that will cover me for more strains, why not get that one?" said Carrizales.

"The three-strain vaccine works very well; the four-strain will just cover one additional strain, which might cover disease in the area. We do not know for sure if it will cause disease or not. It is just an added bonus," said Chicago Department of Public Health doctor for the immunization program. Julie Morita. "Because the vaccine is not going to be readily available in huge amounts, there really is no recommendation for preference to get the four-strain vaccine. The three-strain is readily available, and people should get that one."

Until this year, you only had two options when it came to picking a vaccine - a shot or a nasal mist. But now, the shot also offers the higher dose four-strain vaccine, which contains four times the usual dose.

"The four-strain contains an extra line of protection. It contains two A and two B strains," said Catherine Lee Mosio, pharmacist, UIC. "There really is no true advantage. Everyone should get the flu vaccine this year, everyone 6 months and older, including the elderly."

"I would recommend everybody get a vaccine whether it is the four-strain or the three-strain," Morita said.

If you want the four-strain flu vaccine, call ahead to make sure your doctor or pharmacist has it in stock. It is covered by major insurance companies, and the four-strain costs a few dollars more than the three-strain vaccine.

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