Flu season is coming soon, and we are making preparations to vaccinate our patients. We had a light flu season last year because we were wearing masks all the time, but this year, with no mask mandates and everything being open, we will probably have many more cases of the flu. We feel the optimal time to get vaccinated in San Diego is late October or November because flu season here peaks around January, and by vaccinating at that time, you will have the most antibodies to protect you around the peak of flu season. However, if you are traveling out of town before November, you can certainly get your vaccine sooner. The CDC usually recommends getting the flu vaccine right now, as early as it's available, but that's because they are more concerned about developing "herd immunity" in a community -- if more people are vaccinated early on, there is less chance that influenza hits that community hard later on.
Once again, we will be carrying TWO different flu vaccines. We have the usual 4-strain (quadrivalent) flu vaccine that everyone is eligible to receive. We also have a HIGH DOSE 4-strain vaccine called Flublok. This vaccine has three times the amount of antigen for 4 different strains, and studies show that it gives 30% better protection than the usual 4-strain flu vaccine when tested in patients ages 50 and above. There is also a "senior” flu shot called Fluzone High-Dose which also protects against 4 strains of influenza. Given a choice between the two of them, I would choose Flublok because it is not grown in eggs, which prevents possible mutations that can occur in egg-grown vaccines. However, the difference is not huge, so if you can’t get Flublok, the Fluzone High-Dose is certainly a good substitute. Therefore, we are recommending the Flublok vaccine in all patients ages 50 and above. If you get your flu shot elsewhere, please let us know so we can document it, as we do try to monitor how many people get their flu shots annually. And if you are going to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster, know that it is OK to receive a COVID-19 vaccine together with a flu shot.
Most insurances, including Medicare, do cover all flu shots, but if it is not covered, Flublok costs around $80. If you happen to be in the Ximed building Tuesday, Wednesdays or Fridays, you can just stop by the office to get the vaccine. If you want to come in on Mondays or Thursdays, please call us first. If you have questions, please contact our office by phone at 858-452-7040 or through your web portal (accessed through www.sun-md.com).
Update on COVID-19 Boosters
We finally have some guidelines on boosters, but things will continue to evolve. This is what we know right now: