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ADVANCE Perspective: Respiratory Views

Decisions Surround Flu Shot Choices

Published September 25, 2009 12:38 PM by Vern Enge

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions! That's the status quo in many healthcare departments today as clinicians ponder the many choices they confront on the flu vaccine front.

The hard part is deciding whether to get the flu shot or not, and according to a current  ADVANCE survey, many are opting not to get one. Even in states like New York which require flu shots, staff are not 100 percent behind the push.

It is not just the flu shot itself under consideration today but multiple flu shots. One is needed for general flu; a second is used specifically against the swine flu strains.

Deciding for or against one or two shots is now the option.

But there is more to the decision-making. The New England Journal of Medicine recently compared the effectiveness of two different types of vaccines currently  being offered. One version is a live attenuated vaccine in which the virus is weakened through a chemical or physical progress to yield an immune response that is not as severe as you would normally get with exposure to a full virus strain.

The second is an inactivated vaccine made from viruses which have been killed and are unable to cause the disease.

Which type is best?

According to the NEJM, the inactivated flu vaccine is more effective and has been for the past three years.

Lining up for a flu shot then is just one part of the formula. Once the decision has been made to get this year's flu shot, you must still decide if you will opt for a general flu shot, a swine flu shot or two separate shots. Then you need to consider the composition of the vaccines themselves: inactivated or live attenuated.

It's still a bit early perhaps to make a final decision on the subject, but as each payday period comes along, we all move closer to the day we must roll up our sleeves and get the shot or opt out of participating.

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

posted by Vern Enge

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