Written and medically reviewed by Dorcas Morak, Pharm.D
Flu season is officially here and you've undoubtedly been seeing all sorts of advertisements urging you to get your annual flu vaccine. It can be difficult to choose the right flu vaccine for you without having all the facts. Use this guide to choose the best flu vaccine for the 2022 – 2023 season.
How many flu vaccines have FDA approval for the 2022 – 2023 flu season?
Presently, nine vaccines are FDA approved for the 2022 – 2023 flu season. All the approved vaccines are quadrivalent. Quadrivalent flu vaccines protect against all four strains of influenza virus that cause flu. The nine vaccines with FDA approval are listed below with their corresponding age indication and route of administration:
- Afluria Quadrivalent | 6 months | Intramuscular Route (IM)
- Fluad Quadrivalent | 65 years | IM Fluarix Quadrivalent | 6 months | IM
- Flublok Quadrivalent | 18 months | IM
- Flucelvax Quadrivalent | 6 months | IM
- FluLaval Quadrivalent | 6 months | IM
- FluMist Quadrivalent | 2 – 49 years | Nasal Spray
- Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent (240mcg/0.7 strength) | 65 years | IM
- Fluzone Quadrivalent | 6 months | IM
Which flu vaccine is the most effective?
All flu vaccines are standardized and effective against all four strains of influenza virus that cause the 2022 – 2023 flu. The strains are:
- two type A viruses (H1N1 and H3N2)
- two type B viruses (Victoria and Yamagata lineages).
The effectiveness of each vaccine ranges from 40% to 60% yearly. This indicates you will have the necessary protection regardless of which flu vaccine you choose. However, it may be best to consider which flu vaccine is most suitable for you, rather than which is most generally effective.
How to choose the most suitable flu vaccine?
As mentioned earlier, all flu vaccines effectively protect against the same strains of flu virus. You can be sure that any one you choose will be effective. But not all of them may be suitable for you. Among the factors that determine suitability are allergies and age.
What is the best flu vaccine for people over 65 years?
The immune systems of adults aged 65 and over may respond poorly to vaccines. As a result, one of these three flu vaccines is recommended for them:
If these are not available, you should get another flu vaccine recommended for people in your age group. All flu vaccines are effective against the flu. Getting any flu vaccine for your age group is better than staying unvaccinated.
What is the most suitable vaccine if I have egg allergies?
Most flu vaccines are egg-based, meaning they are made using chicken eggs. While most people with a history of allergy to eggs tolerate egg-based flu vaccines, there are rare cases of serious allergic reactions. If you can't tolerate egg-based vaccines, consider Flucelvax Quadrivalent or Flublok Quadrivalent.
What is the best flu vaccine if I am afraid of injections?
Though most flu vaccines are delivered by needle, you have an alternative if you have a fear of injection. FluMist Quadrivalent is available as a nasal spray. Limitations of FluMist Quadrivalent include:
- it is only approved for people between the ages of 2 and 49
- it contains live attenuated organisms instead of dead ones, and is thus not suitable for pregnant women and immunocompromised people
When should I get my flu vaccine?
The recommended time to get a flu shot is the end of September or October. When you get vaccinated close to the beginning of flu season, you will have optimal protection. Flu vaccines that are taken too early, however – July or August – do not guarantee protection throughout the entire flu season.
Can I get the flu from the flu vaccine?
No. You can't get the flu from taking the vaccine because the organism in the vaccine is either dead or too weak to cause the infection. You may however develop the following flu-like symptoms in the days after vaccination, which are entirely normal:
- low-grade fever
- muscle aches
How to save money on the flu shot?
You can save up to 88% on the cost of flu vaccines by using the rxless prescription savings card. Our savings card is accepted at most pharmacies, including CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Download your card today and start saving.