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Flu shot alternative offers smaller needle, frequent side effects

10:00 AM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- There's a new flu shot on the market that's aimed at people who hate needles.

It's called the intradermal flu vaccination.

The needle is 90 percent smaller than the traditional vaccination.

It also uses 40 percent less antigens, which is how the shot forces the body to fight infection, but it is considered just as effective.

The drawback is that side effects are more common with this type of vaccination. These side effects include swelling, redness, irritation and pain near the injection site.

The shot is only approved for adults between 18 and 64 years old, but it is an option a lot of adults are ready to try.

Robin Hughes, who works in the medical industry, is one of those adults.

"As long as I can remember, I've had a fear of needles," Hughes said.

That fear has kept Hughes from getting a flu shot.

Until now.

"I was like: Yes! Finally someone has heard 'us.' Someone understands! We would do it if the needle wasn't 12 miles long!" Hughes said.

"[The vaccination] actually goes under the skin instead of into the muscle. It's a 90 percent smaller needle," explained Pamela Webster, a registered nurse for the CVS Minute Clinic.  

The downside? It might hurt less going in, but that pain could increase later on.

"I do find that there are a great number of complaints that I have a red spot on my arm. It was sore for a longer period of time than the deeper intermuscular injection," said Dr. Thomas Tallman at the Cleveland Clinic.

Another option for needle-phobics? Nasal medication. No needle necessary!

This option is slightly different in that the antigen injected is partially dead.

You won't catch the flu since the temperature of your nasal passages keep the antigen dormant.

This option is good for anyone between 2 and 50 years old.

It's a good idea to talk with your doctor about which option is best for you.

Your insurance also may not cover the nasal spray or intradermal vaccination.

Flu season can start anytime between October and March, so the earlier you get vaccinated, the better.

The vaccination takes about two weeks to fully take effect.

For those who believe that you can catch the flu by getting the shot -- that's a myth.

Your body may feel like it's coming down with the flu, but that is actually your immune system adjusting to the antigen.

Those symptoms should go away within three to seven days.


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