New flu vaccine offers more protection

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A new, stronger flu vaccine has hit pharmacy shelves just in time for flu season.

According to the Center for Disease Control, it’s a four-strain vaccine, called a quadrivalent vaccine, and it’s been several years in the making.

Sharon Moon is an immunization coordinator for Salt Lake County, and she said the trivalent vaccine only prevents three strains of the influenza virus while the newer vaccine goes further.

“Doctors and scientists have known that a lot of people get influenza from strains that are not in the vaccine,” she said. “So they thought by adding another B strain that would add more protection.”

Official flu season is October through March, but health department officials urge everyone to get vaccinated as early as possible. It takes about two weeks for your body to build a tolerance.

And as for that urban myth that claims getting the flu shot can give you the flu, officials said it’s just that: a complete myth.

“They may have been exposed to one of thousands of other viruses,” Moon said. “After the flu vaccine, people will feel achy for up to 24 hours, but to actually get the flu, the flu vaccine does not cause the flu.”

There is still a fairly large population of people who should get vaccinated but don’t, and those people are putting others at risk as well as themselves.

According to the CDC, high-risk groups include children 6 months to 5 years of age and people older than 60. Anyone with a chronic disease should protect themselves with the flu shot.

The cost is roughly $31, but most insurance plans cover it. The other type of the influenza vaccine is a trivalent vaccine. It provides a little less protection because it only includes three viruses, but those three viruses are the most common. The cost is roughly $25.