Q: There are so many kinds of flu shots this year — how do I know which one is right for me?
A: We're glad you're planning on getting your flu shot. Every year there is a different combination of flu strains in the vaccine. This year’s flu shot is different than last year’s formula, so the shot you got last year will not protect you.
And you’re right about the kinds of flu shots - there are more options than ever! But there’s no reason to be confused. Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of flu vaccinations options that are available in the U.S. this year:
- Injection: This is the most common type of flu vaccination. If you’ve had a flu shot before, you know what to expect: You’ll get a small amount of flu vaccine injected into your muscle (usually your deltoid, or shoulder).
- Nasal: The flu vaccine is also available as a nasal spray, though it should not be used by pregnant women or those with certain conditions, such as asthma.
- Intradermal flu shot: For people afraid of needles, this is the flu shot for you! The needle is much smaller on this type of shot, and the vaccine is delivered intradermally (under your skin) instead of in your muscle like the regular flu shot. This option can cost extra, so check with your doctor or pharmacy.
- High-dose flu shot: The high-dose flu shot is made for people 65 and older. It has a stronger dose of medication than the regular seasonal flu shot.
- Preservative-free, single-dose flu shot: Normally the flu-shot — like many other vaccines and injections — comes in a multi-dose bottle with a small amount of preservative known as thimerosol to help the vaccine stay fresh for longer. Some people prefer preservative-free flu shots. These are more expensive, come packaged in a single dose and usually have to be ordered ahead of time.
The best time to get your flu shot is early in the flu season, before flu is widespread in the community, because it can take up to two weeks for the flu shot to fully protect you. And don't forget to practice good hand hygiene and cold and flu etiquette year-round!
We hope this has helped you decide what flu shot is right for you. If you need to find out where to get your flu shot, check out HealthMap's Flu Vaccine Finder.