Flu season isn't in full swing yet, but doctors say now is the time to get vaccinated -- and needle-shy patients have a new option this year that is supposed to be less painful than previous versions of the flu shot.
The new intradermal flu vaccine has a big name but a tiny little needle, and health experts hope it will get more people to give the flu vaccine a shot.
All it takes is one bad case of the flu to create another firm believer in flu shots.
"When I was in kindergarten, I had two types of flu at once and ended up in the hospital," recalled Robin Fleming, who said she'd rather hear a little crying in the doctor's office than risk her son getting sick. "I don't want him to get really sick and have complications."
Still, many people worrying about soreness or the sting of a needle still shy away from the flu shot, and that's why Fairview clinics are offering a new form.
"There is still a little bit of a prick, but it is less of a burn," explained Laura Patton, a physician's assistant.
The needle is just one tenth the size of a traditional shot, and the vaccine is injected just under the skin instead of into the muscle. The benefit of the new method of insertion as that there is minimal soreness the next day, but there is a chance of some localized swelling and irritation.
"Some people get a reaction right away. They get a kind of wheel, if you will -- just a red spot at that site," Patton said. "Some people, no reaction at all -- so, it's very individualized.
The new shot is just as effective as the traditional method, but is only available for people ages 18 to 64 and many local flu shot clinics -- including those by the Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency -- still use the traditional vaccines.
For now, the intradermal shot is only being offered at a handful of clinics in the metro, but the traditional shot should not be hard to find.