New four-strain flu vaccinating options coming soon

Early this month, the St. Louis College of Pharmacy announced that, for the first time, there will be a vaccine that protects against four strains of the flu virus.

Every year, scientists pick what will be the three most common forms of the flu during the winter season which are then formulated into an annual vaccine.

However, this year's vaccine has the three current flu forms plus one more version of the virus.

"The real need for the vaccine with four flu viruses comes if that additional virus begins to circulate," Clark Kebodeaux, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, stated in a press release. "At this early point, it's not certain what types of flu will cause the most illnesses."

The vaccine will also be given through two forms of injections and a nasal spray for those needle-nervous individuals.

"To ensure the new style of vaccine, ask for a nasal spray instead of an injection," said Kebodeaux. "Some injections only include the three-strain vaccine. Going forward after this year, we'll know if the additional protection is necessary."

Several Santa Monica College students had mixed reactions about the new vaccines, from not wanting to take the flu vaccine at all to debating over the injection versus the nasal spray version.

"I hate needles," said SMC student Shannon McCourt. "If everything could come in nasal spray, I would do the nasal spray."

However, SMC student Maurissa Dargan said she prefers the needle injection over nasal spray.

"I'd rather take the needle," she said. "I've never had things up my nose. I like what I know."

Kebodeaux stated that older adults, and those with chronic conditions like diabetes and asthma, need to receive an injection as soon as the vaccines arrive. The high-dose version of the vaccine for older adults protects against three versions of the flu virus.

"I encourage everyone to get any version of the flu vaccine," Kebodeaux said. "There will be plenty for everyone."

Some believed that receiving the flu vaccination was wise, especially before the flu season.

Elysse LeRoy, SMC student, receives a flu shot every year, even though she is scared of needles.

"Yes, I do think it is important to get vaccinated, because you want to stay healthy as long as possible and not miss any school," she said.

SMC student Julian Robinson said he believes that the flu shot promotes good health.

"Everyone should get them to prevent the flu," he said.

Robinson felt that the cost of a flu shot should not exceed $20.

"It's something that everyone should have, and I think that's a price that everyone can somehow work out," he said.

Dr. Glenn Gorlitsky, a Santa Monica physician, said that the three-strain flu vaccine is available at his private practice, but Walgreens and other pharmacies offer it at a cheaper cost.

"The three-strain for this season is out, very available," said Gorlitsky. "The four-strain is not as available. For children, we tend to use the nasal one. So, either would be fine. It would be preferable, but no urgency, to try to get the four-strain one."

Gorlitsky also said that his office ordered the four-strain vaccine, but they are currently waiting on its arrival.

An egg-free version of the vaccine will also be made available to adults ages 18 to 49 with egg allergies who decide to receive the flu shot.

As of now, it is unclear if any SMC sponsored vaccinations will be offered or whether the SMC student health fee, paid each semester by students, will cover the cost. Flu vaccinations have previously been offered to SMC students "at cost," SMC's Health Services coordinator Gloria Lopez told The Corsair in May 2012.

After various attempts to contact Lopez and Health Services, Lopez did not comment on whether the department would offer the new versions of the flu vaccine.