Almost painless flu shot available in Upstate - FOX Carolina 21

Almost painless flu shot available in Upstate

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The newer, smaller needle (left) and the traditional, longer needle for the flu vaccine. (File/FOX Carolina) The newer, smaller needle (left) and the traditional, longer needle for the flu vaccine. (File/FOX Carolina)

Monday was the first official day of the flu season. The Centers for Disease Control said everyone older than six months needs to be vaccinated this year.

They said flu-related illnesses send 200,000 people to the hospital every year. Protection means a dreaded trip to a medical office to get a shot.

For those with a needle phobia, there might be some good news. A new vaccine with a smaller needle has arrived. This is only the second year it's been available and now more doctors are stocking it in the Upstate.

The new intradermal flu shot's needle is 10 times smaller than a traditional flu shot.

 "It's a shot that basically just goes under the skin, it's not as deep in the muscle," said Dr. Winston Morris of Doctors Express in Greenville.  

He said patients shouldn't be embarrassed to fess up to a needle phobia - seven out of 10 of his patients are afraid of shots. The traditional vaccine needle is inserted nearly an inch into a patient's skin.

That's why for the first year they're stocking the newer vaccines at the office.

"We have a lot of different types of people coming in - kids, adults, elderly - so we'll have the flu shot as well, but this also is an option for folks who do not like to get shots," said Morris.

But the intradermal needle isn't for everyone. Right now the CDC said the shot is only approved for people between ages 18 and 64.

The smaller needle also comes with something else - less antigen, which builds up antibodies and allows our bodies to fight off the viruses. But Morris said this "mini" version of the shot provides the same protection

"The neat thing about this is its a 90 percent smaller needle, and there's 40 percent less antigen, but it provides the same amount of protection," said Morris.

The smaller needle is going to cost extra. It's $4 to $5 more than a traditional flu shot. 

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