More potent flu shot available to NM's elderly
Posted at: 09/28/2012 4:39 PM
| Updated at: 09/28/2012 5:33 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico senior citizens can get some extra help in fighting the flu this season.
It's a stronger dose of flu vaccine, with 400 percent more antigen than the regular vaccine. That's the part of the vaccine that triggers the creation of antibodies in the patient to increase resistance to the virus.
95 percent of the people who die from flu are over 65 years of age. That's why doctors say they need flu shots.
"If you're really at risk, talk to your doctor about whether you need the over 65 vaccine," said Dr. John Iacuone, senior medical advisor for the Lovelace Health Plan. "Why is it more potent? Because your immune system isn't that good any more so you need a stronger dose to stimulate your resistance to the actual virus."
It's easy to get a flu shot in New Mexico cities and most towns. Many pharmacies offer them at low cost, and the University of New Mexico Hospital is holding a series of free shot clinics, with one scheduled for Saturday at the UNM Northeast Heights Clinic, 7801 Academy NE, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Still, lots of people say they believe the flu shot itself will make me sick.
"Well, no, it's never worse than getting the flu," Dr. Iacuone said. "The flu lasts 4 to 6 weeks. You can die from it. You can end up in the hospital with pneumonia. You get the flu shot, you sort of ache for a day or two, maybe a little low grade fever - it's nothing!"
So far it's a mild start to flu season, but doctors and nurses know it can turn ugly in a hurry. They say it's best to be prepared.
The Veteran Affairs hospital is also offering flu shots for the state's military veterans.
Starting Oct. 9, Albuquerque's V.A. hospital will have a daily walk-in flu shot clinic. The clinic will be open Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. until November.
The vaccine is also available to veterans at any V.A. outpatient clinics across the state.