High dose flu shots mean new choices

October 1, 2010 5:25:41 PM PDT
Just when you thought getting a flu shot was simple, there's something new! This year, the swine flu vaccine is combined with the seasonal flu vaccine all in one shot and everybody over six months old is supposed to take it. Betty Sterba is getting the super flu shot. She'd never heard of it until this week when her doctor told her to take it.

"He said he thought it was a good idea," she said. "It's for people like me."

What is a high dose flu shot?

Kelsey-Seybold Immunization Specialist Dr. Melanie Mouzoon said, "High dose flu vaccine -- it's the same vaccine as the usual flu vaccine but it's four times as concentrated."

It's the first high dose flu vaccine and it's only for seniors, because they're the ones who most often die from the flu.

Dr. Herbert DuPont with the UT School of Public Health said, "We don't respond to vaccines as well as we get older because of the deterioration of our immune system."

Are the side effects super too?

"There's a little more soreness, a little more swelling, even some more muscle aches and pains that occur, but that means it's working," explained Dr. DuPont.

Bob Brecht chose the high dose flu shot.

"I thought, well, it's worth doing that because I want every edge that I can get," Brecht said. "I can't afford to be sick. Plus I love my grandkids want to be around them, plus we all know that kids carry a lot of things."

So it's basically a choice for seniors. But what if people under 65 want the super flu shot? Dr. DuPont says they don't need it. But there are some questions about it.

He said, "I think it's a terrific idea. The only thing missing is the science. We have to prove that it helps."

They don't know if the stronger vaccine actually prevents more cases of flu. This is the first year -- a kind of test run. The CDC is waiting to see who gets sick on the regular flu shot, and who gets sick on the super flu shot. The super flu shot does cost about $50 more, although Medicare usually pays for it.


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