Q: I just turned 65. Which flu shot should I get this year, the trivalent high-dose flu shot or the regular quadrivalent flu shot?
A: Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu shot every year. But if you are 65 or older, you should consider the high-dose trivalent flu shot.
It provides greater protection for seniors, who are more susceptible to getting certain types of flu.
The two types of flu shots you mentioned cover the H1N1, H3N2 and the influenza B viruses. The difference is that the quadrivalent vaccine protects against two influenza B viruses while the trivalent vaccine protects against only one influenza B virus.
However, the trivalent shot contains a larger dose of the H3N2 virus, which poses a greater threat to people 65 and older.
Flu season generally begins in October and can last through May, with a peak of infections in January.
If possible, you should get your flu shot before October. It takes about two weeks for your body to make antibodies protecting you from the virus.
This recommendation might vary depending on the climate where you live. Regions with lower humidity and lower temperatures see flu cases earlier. In the Lowcountry, our higher humidity means the flu might not hit until November. Nevertheless, you should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Getting the flu can be debilitating and deadly. Each year, the flu causes about 500,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths.
When you are sick, you must be isolated from other people to keep from spreading the virus. This can result in significant loss of income.
The flu shot does not cause illness. You might experience flu-like symptoms with the nasal flu mist (which is not recommended anymore) because it is a live virus.
These last about 24 hours.
The flu shot contains an inactive virus, which makes it impossible to get the flu directly from the vaccine.
Some people might get sick because they were already exposed to the virus before getting the shot or during the two-week window after they got it, before it became effective.
Talk to your healthcare provider about which flu shot is best for you. The important thing is to make sure you are protected this flu season.
William E. Kyle, D.O., is an internal medicine specialist at Memorial Health University Physicians-Legacy Center in Okatie.