The health care system’s flu task force recently approved making three additional flu vaccine options standard, with plans to have the options available to UPMC physician offices, urgent care clinics and employee health centers late summer, when vaccine manufacturers begin shipments.
- A vaccine called “inactivated influenza vaccine 4,” or IIV4, which adds a fourth strain for protection against the four flu strains most likely to be circulating. In the 2012-13 flu season, a strain of flu that was not covered by the standard three-strain flu vaccine caused the majority of the flu cases in Pittsburgh and nationwide. This vaccine is recommended for people 6 months of age and older. If manufacturers are low on supplies, the three-strain vaccine will be offered.
- A “high-dose” vaccine, which has four times the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibodies against the flu. Recent research has found that the high-dose vaccine, recommended for adults 65 and over, decreases pneumonia related to flu-like illness in the elderly.
- A “recombinant influenza vaccine,” or RIV, which does not contain any egg protein. This will be recommended for adults ages 18 to 49 with severe egg allergies. The standard flu vaccine is created using eggs, meaning it isn’t safe for people who have anaphylaxis to eggs.
UPMC increased flu vaccination rates among its employees by more than 10 percent this year, with more than 80 percent of hospital staff receiving the flu vaccine, well above the most recent statistics on nationwide health care worker vaccination rates.