Which Flu Vaccine Should You Get This Year?

The crisp cool air and golden, red leaves marks the start of the influenza season for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Vaccination helps prevent serious complications from the flu for people with various medical conditions, such as heart failure. In addition, the flu shot can also help prevent cardiovascular events in people with no medical conditions. Out of 80,000 people who were infected with influenza, 12% had a related cardiovascular event.1 The most common of these cardiovascular complications was heart failure.1 Those who received the flu shot were significantly less likely to develop acute heart failure than those who did not receive the vaccine.1

Different types of flu vaccines

There are many different types of flu vaccines. The decision of which vaccine is most appropriate depends on the availability and in some cases, cost. Regardless, flu season itself is an overwhelming and stressful period. Many want to ensure they are receiving the best version of the vaccine.

What is the influenza virus?Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses. There are several groups and sub-groups of influenza A. The virus is transmitted through respiratory secretions during the winter season. For the average person, they are contagious for 5 days; however, people with underlying health conditions such as heart failure can be contagious for up to 10 days or more.What are the types of vaccines?In each flu vaccine, there are two influenza A (H1N1 and H3N2), and either one or two influenza B viruses. There are several manufacturers who manufacture the flu vaccine each year, so it is likely that you may not receive the same vaccine as someone else you know. The following are the most common vaccine types available for the 2020-2021 influenza season:Standard Dose Quadrivalent/Trivalent Inactivated Vaccine: The quadrivalent vaccine protects against four different influenza viruses: two influenza A, and two influenza B. The trivalent vaccine protects against three different types.High-Dose Quadrivalent Inactivated Vaccine: People 65 years of age and older may opt to receive the high-dose vaccine. In most jurisdictions, this is the most expensive vaccine. It is quadrivalent and contains four times the antigen as standard-dose vaccines. The antigen is the component of the vaccine that helps enhance immunity against the virus. The high-dose vaccine is 24% more effective than the standard dose vaccines in preventing the flu in people over 65 years of age.2Live Attenuated Vaccine (nasal spray): For people 2-49 years of age who do not want to receive an injection, the nasal spray is another option. It should not be used in pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions. It should also be used cautiously in certain groups, such as people with heart disease, given that this is a live vaccine.Does it matter which vaccine you get?Simply put, no. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the annual flu shot for everyone 6 months of age and older. They do not state a preference for one vaccine over the other. For most people with heart disease, the standard dose inactivated vaccine is an ideal option. If you are over 65 years of age, the high-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccine may offer greater protection. Speak to your doctor if you have questions about which vaccine is best for you.

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