By Jessica Jordan
A new supercharged seasonal flu shot out this year packs four times the strength of a standard vaccine into a single dose.
The new Fluzone High Dose Vaccine is designed for people 65 years and older and promises to offer that age group a major boost in defense against viruses, including the H1N1 Swine Flu.
Mark Hodge with the Montgomery County Health Department has already begun receiving the first batches of the shot.
"While the current flu vaccine worked well," Hodge says, "they didn't feel that it was getting a strong immune response as it could. So Sanofi produced this new high dose vaccine which is quite a bit stronger. Has a lot more flu antigens that cause the immune response and is expected to provide more protection for people over 65."
The manufacturer of the vaccine, Sanofi, only produced about 6 million doses for the entire country.
Montogomery County ordered 100 shots.
"The high dose is more expensive and so we couldn't afford necessarily a higher amount," Hodge says. "There wasn't a huge push by the company to get it out there because they didn't make a lot of vaccines, so I think the health departments are making their choices based on the amount of budget they have, and where they can get the biggest bang for their buck."
That bang continues to be the standard flu shot.
Health Clinics say they won't know how much more effective the new Fluzone vaccine will be until after they begin offering immunization clinics, some at the end of October.
Meanwhile, some pharmacies and grocery chains offer both the standard vaccine and the Fluzone high dose.