Harvard Health Letter

Vaccination roundup

Do you need a shot for flu, shingles, or pneumonia this year?

vaccination roundup doctor patient
Image: MonkeyBusinessImages/ Thinkstock

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.

Flu vaccine

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.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »