New flu shots soon to be available for Kearny, East Newark residents

KEARNY –

It’s time to think about getting a flu shot and the Kearny Health Department is in action to facilitate that objective.

This year, though, there’ll be a new wrinkle to the annual flu shots administered by the health department.

Kenneth Pincus, the town health officer, said he’s getting a new type of vaccine called “quadrivalent,” which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “is designed to protect against four different flu viruses: two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses.”

Last year, the KHD went with the trivalent vaccine to protect against three flu strains: an influenza A H1N1 virus, an influenza A H3N2 virus and one B virus, although, as explained by the CDC, “there are two very different lineages of B viruses that both circulate during most seasons. … Adding another B virus to the vaccine aims to give broader protection against circulating flu viruses.”

Now, Pincus said, it makes sense to go with the best protection available so he’s ordered 350 doses of the quadrivalent vaccine.

That’s 50 fewer doses than last year but that’s due partly to price differential – the trivalent costs about $10 per shot versus nearly $15 per shot for quadrivalent – and supply and demand, which has hovered around 300 a year, Pincus said.

As a safety factor, Pincus requested pre-loaded syringes, “so that once the nurse injects someone, she can discard it right way and there is no chance of re-drawing the needle tip from the vial, no double-dipping, to prevent possible contamination.”

Additionally, he said, “The vaccine is latex-free and free of preservatives for people with allergies.”

Pincus said the KHD is planning “two or three” flu clinics at the Kearny Health Center and one in East Newark. Dates for those clinics have yet to be scheduled, he said.

The CDC recommends all individuals 6 months and older take the flu shot, especially people age 65 and older, with and without chronic health conditions; residents of long-term care facilities; people ages 2-64 with chronic health conditions; children 6 months or older who attend any licensed child care center or pre-school; pregnant women; health-care personnel who provide direct patient care; household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children under 6 months of age.

Those who should avoid flu shots, according to the CDC, are children younger than 6 months, along with people “with threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics or other ingredients.” Those allergic to eggs or any of the ingredients of the vaccine or who have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome are advised to consult with their doctor.

For more information, call the KHD at 201-997-0600, ext. 3505 or 3500.

– Ron Leir

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.