Do you need a shot for flu, shingles, or pneumonia this year?
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Researchers here at Harvard and elsewhere are racing to find a vaccine that will protect us from Zika, the mosquito-borne illness linked to rare birth defects and to Guillain-Barré syndrome. Meanwhile, we already have vaccines to protect us against common and sometimes vicious illnesses.
This annual shot is considered a "must" for older adults, especially those with heart disease. The challenge is deciding whether to get the trivalent vaccine—a stronger dose that includes three influenza strains and may trigger an improved immune response in seniors—or the broader quadrivalent vaccine, which includes four flu strains.
"Some evidence suggests the trivalent is better, but I don't think people should turn down the quadrivalent if it's the only one available," says Dr. Paul Sax, clinical director of the division of infectious diseases at Brigham and Women's Hospital and a professor at Harvard Medical School.