The Flu Shot You Won’t Be Afraid Of

Fall has arrived… and with it the season for flu shots. Per usual, the Student Health Center will offer fall flu clinics every Tuesday and Thursday of this month (check the UHS website for posted dates, hours and locations) – and, even though students are aware of the benefits that come with vaccination, there will always be those who hesitate. To many, needles rank among the scariest of Halloween’s ghouls and goblins. With that we couldn’t agree more, which is why we looked for (and found) a much less frightening option.

Allow us to introduce you to the Fluzone® Intradermal vaccine. Made available for the first time last flu season to those aged 18-64 years, the intradermal vaccine is everything the standard flu shot is – miniaturized. With a 90% shorter needle, this vaccine is the ideal alternative for the needle-fearful. At less
than one-tenth an inch this “micro-needle” is approximately as long as the thickness of a penny and as thin as the average human hair.

The shorter needle permits the penetration into only the outer skin layer, whereas the traditional shot injects directly into the muscle (ouch!). Fortunately, injection into the skin is actually more advantageous because of the skin’s higher number of immune cells. These skills therefore require fewer antigens (the ingredient in the vaccine that prepares our immune system to guard itself against the influenza virus) to be effective.

Also appealing – “it is reported to be completely painless,” says a pharmacist at CVS. “The only complaint that I have heard of so far is itching or redness of the skin after the shot has been administered.” Not so bad
considering the scarier alternative…or the nasty flu!

Although it is not yet offered through University Health Services, the intradermal vaccine can be found at several locations in State College, the closest of which is the CVS’s on W. College Avenue and E. Beaver Avenue. Other locations include the Mount Nittany Physicians Group as well as all local Giant, Rite Aid, Target and CVS pharmacies. Be sure to also ask about the shot’s availability at your local physician’s office should you choose to be vaccinated there.

For more information, including health concerns and risk factors, visit www.fluzone.com.

Photo by Rhiannon Hedrick