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New flu vaccines here

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Updated: 9/02/2013 11:52 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Summer is winding down and that means flu season isn't far away.

Even though Bob King got the flu shot last year, he still caught the virus from his wife, who didn't.

"We had coughing, sneezing, and congestion. I was down for three days," he said.

"I didn't get one because I hadn't been sick in nine years, but it took me a week out of work," said Jennifer King.

This year, they both vow to get vaccinated, and they'll have a new choice.

Dr. Sunil Joshi, an allergist and member for the Duval County Medical Society says patients will have a new option.

"The flu shot now doesn't just involve one common strain for the flu virus."

Joshi says flu vaccines must evolve each year to fight the ever-changing virus, and this year some manufacturers have found a way to fight the four most common strains, instead of one, two, or three.

Traditionally, vaccines have included two Type A strains, which are the most severe, and only one of the Type B. Manufacturers have been left to guess which B-strain will be the most prevalent based on worldwide trends.

The new four-strain vaccine covers both Type B and is called quadrivalent. The CDC says it could prevent as many as 500 more deaths a year.

"I think the goal of the CDC is to come up with the best vaccine to protect people in the best way possible, and prevent the worst outcome which is death."

Joshi expects the four-strain vaccine to be popular for kids, who are back in school and exposed to more germs.

It's added protection that comforts the Kings who have one child in high school and another in kindergarten.

"The schools do a good job of encouraging them to wash their hands, but you put them in a room small enough and they're going to get everything from everybody," says Jennifer.

Joshi thinks parents should consider the four-strain vaccine too, and earlier rather than later. According to the CDC, 200,000 people are hospitalized with the flu each year, and another 24,000 die on average.

Joshi says this flu season could start as early as next month.

"It costs the same no matter which kind you get. Why not get the one that's going to be more likely to protect you?"

Patients are encouraged to talk to their doctors for advice on which vaccine is right for them, and to do so as soon as possible because the quadrivalent vaccine is only made by a limited number of manufacturers.

All nasal spray vaccines are four strain, and patients should also ask for special formulas if they are allergic to eggs. Because the vaccines evolve each year, patients are encouraged to get a flu shot this year, even if it didn't work last year.

"I'll be the first in line this year," says Jennifer.
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