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What to know about the flu vaccine

Getting a yearly vaccination is your best defense.

If you’re a touch on the timid side when it comes to needles, this year’s new flu vaccine option just might be a reason to smile and roll up your sleeve.

The federal government has approved and licensed a new intradermal flu vaccine as another choice for adults 18 through 64 years old, and it uses a tiny needle. The vaccine is injected into the skin instead of the muscle. This allows for a super-thin needle that’s also 90 percent shorter than the one used for traditional flu shots. And you’ll get the same protection as the regular shot.

Of course, the regular flu shot is still an option. So, too, is the nasal spray vaccine for healthy people ages 2 to 49 years who aren’t pregnant.

Also keep this in mind: Even if you were vaccinated last year, you still need a vaccination this year to be protected. This year’s targeted flu strains—the three viruses expected to cause the most trouble this season, including the H1N1 virus—are the same as last year’s. But vaccine protection decreases over time, and you may be vulnerable now.

The flu can be more than a lousy illness. It can lead to serious and even life-threatening complications in some people. Getting a yearly vaccination is your best defense. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months and older be vaccinated.

Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.
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