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Flu Shots: What You Need To Know Before Getting Vaccinated

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- You might not always find a doctor at a playground, but mom is often close by in a pinch, ready to kiss a scraped knee.

Ellen Guettler did that for her son at Minneapolis's Kenwood Park, but her affection is a long way from keeping him from catching the flu.

"We are really focused on making sure that our whole family is vaccinated every year," Guettler said.

It is the mindset health professionals suggest, but which vaccine to choose is where they differ.

"Welcome to our world, because it really is a confusing issue," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, professor at the University of Minnesota and former state epidemiologist.

(credit: CBS)

Osterholm said to trust your physician's input, despite some recent national reports.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center announced it will only carry the two, egg-free vaccines.

It states in a news release that they are the more effective compared to the egg-based shots and the nasal spray. UPMC added that studies showed the egg-free vaccines better protect seniors.

"While there are some differences, they're not demonstrably different between a cell culture versus and egg-based, versus which kind of vaccine you get," Olsterholm said. "I think the key thing is getting vaccinated."

As for when to get vaccinated, he said to wait even if pharmacies are already advertising flu shots.

"From the time you get the flu shot, every month after that the actual protection is reduced over time," he said.

Osterholm says reduction in effectiveness is a about a 15-20 percent drop per month. Guettler says her children's pediatrician follows that suggestion.

"In certain years [the pediatrician] has said, 'I might recommend that you come back in a month or two,'" Guettler said.

That is why he and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest getting a flu shot in late October or early November, closer to when flu season typically begins.

The American Academy of Pediatrics this season is recommending parents have their children get the flu shot, versus the nasal spray, stating the shot is more effective.

However, the CDC reports the nasal spray is now more effective than it was the past two years, and is back to recommending it for children.

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