Tonawanda News

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September 16, 2013

New flu vaccine issued this year

School is back in session, the weather’s getting a little chilly and Halloween candy is already on the shelves, and that means one thing: Flu season is yet again upon us.

For some, that means it’s time to start thinking about getting the flu vaccination, and this year there’s a change in store. For the first time ever, one version of the flu vaccine will cover four strains of the virus instead of the traditional three strains.

Traditional flu vaccines — called trivalent — inoculate people against two A-type strains and two B-type strains. This year’s vaccine protects against A-types H1N1 — swine flu — and H3N2, and the B-type B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus, the Centers for Disease Control Prevention website says.

The new quadrivalent vaccine inoculates against the same three strains this year, but also includes the B-type B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.

But Frank Heinrich, the lead clinical pharmacist for Kenmore Mercy Hospital, warned consumers who might want to rush out to get the new vaccine might come up short. There’s likely to be a shortage of the four-strain vaccine because the manufacturer that created it didn’t release it until after most pharmacies — like the one at Kenmore Mercy — have already put in their orders for the year in January and February.

Kenmore Mercy will be inoculating all in-patients with the trivalent vaccine, but Heinrich said there’s little cause for concern.

“Type A (flu viruses) are the ones that are the most common,” he said. “The B virus is a lot less common and it doesn’t mutate as readily, therefore it’s not as likely that if you get the flu that it’s due to B.”

The added coverage in the quadrivalent vaccine is for an extra strain of the less-likely B virus.

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