Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Flu Shots in August? Seems a Little Early Being Vaccinated Now Doesn't Hurt, but Offerings May Be Mostly a Sales Tactic

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Flu Shots in August? Seems a Little Early Being Vaccinated Now Doesn't Hurt, but Offerings May Be Mostly a Sales Tactic

Article excerpt

If your kids hate going back to school while the swimming pool is still open, imagine how they'll feel about getting flu shots in August.

Not that they need the vaccine this early -- nor do seniors for whom immunization is critical. But the shots are available now at major drugstore chains such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens -- much earlier than used to be the case.

The early offerings may be primarily a sales tactic for companies trying to up their share of the market.

"It gets very competitive for these entities," said Guillermo Cole, spokesman for the Allegheny County Health Department. "I think everyone's trying to get a leg up."

In addition to the traditional shot, the vaccine is available in the relatively new and painless intradermal shot, which pierces the skin but not the muscle (approved for ages 18 to 64), and the intranasal vaccine (for those age 2 to 49 who are not pregnant and have no chronic illness). All are considered effective.

Because today's vaccine lasts longer than previous versions, it's OK, although not necessary, to immunize now.

"There's no reason to worry about the vaccine wearing off or the supply running out," Mr. Cole said.

"October and November are the optimal times, but getting it in August or September doesn't hurt. The problem is with those who don't get around to it."

Jennifer Preiss, a primary care physician with Allegheny Health Network's Greentree Medical Associates, said she has changed her advice to patients since the vaccine became longer-lasting.

"Prior to this year, I was very much against getting flu shots this early. I told my patients to wait until mid-October so the coverage would last into late spring. But the vaccine now gives a good six months of protection. There's no reason to rush out and get it right this second, but it's fine if someone wants to."

The vaccine is only minimally available now, Dr. …

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