Intradermal Influenza (Flu) Vaccination

What is the intradermal flu vaccine?

“Fluzone Intradermal®” was first made available in the 2011-2012 flu season. The intradermal flu vaccine is a shot that is injected into the skin instead of the muscle. The intradermal shot uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot, and it requires less antigen to be as effective as the regular flu shot. Antigen is the part of the vaccine that helps your body build up protection against flu viruses.


How is the the intradermal vaccine similar to the other licensed flu vaccines?

The intradermal flu vaccine has a similar safety profile to the regular Fluzone flu shot. Like all flu vaccines, the intradermal vaccine is made to protect against the three flu viruses that research suggests will be most common for the season. The intradermal flu vaccine works in the body in the same way as a regular flu shot.

What else is important to know about the intradermal vaccine?

The intradermal flu vaccine uses a very fine needle that is 90% smaller than the needles used for regular flu shots. This may be helpful for people who don’t like needles. Another feature of the intradermal vaccine is that it requires 40% less antigen than the regular flu shot. This is useful because the same amount of available antigen can be used to make more doses of the vaccine.

Who can receive the intradermal flu vaccine?

The intradermal vaccine is approved by FDA for use in adults 18 through 64 years of age and is another vaccination option for people in this age group. The regular flu shot continues to be an option for people 6 months and older, and the nasal spray vaccine is available for non-pregnant, healthy people ages 2 to 49.

How is the intradermal vaccine supplied?

The intradermal vaccine is supplied in a single-dose, preservative-free (without thimerosal), prefilled syringe.

Does the intradermal flu vaccine provide the same protection as the regular flu vaccine?

In adults 18-64 years of age, the intradermal vaccine has shown to provide an immune response similar to the regular flu shot that is given in the muscle.

Are there risks from getting an intradermal flu vaccine?

Just like the regular flu shot, the viruses in the intradermal flu shot are killed (inactivated), so you cannot get the flu from the vaccine. The risk of any flu vaccine causing serious harm, or death, is extremely small. However, a vaccine, like any medicine, has a rare possibility to cause serious problems, such as severe allergic reactions. Almost all people who get influenza vaccine have no serious problems from it.

What are the side effects that could occur?

In studies, common reactions to the intradermal flu shot included redness, swelling, toughness, pain, and itching at the injection site. With the exception of pain, these side effects were more common with the intradermal shot than they are with regular flu shots. Other side effects included headache, muscle ache, and tiredness. These symptoms usually go away within 3 to 7 days.


Can severe problems occur?

While severe reactions are uncommon, you should let your doctor, nurse, clinic, or pharmacist know if you have a history of allergy or severe reaction to flu vaccine or any part of flu vaccine, including eggs. The decision to give the intradermal vaccine should be based on the potential benefits and risks, especially if Guillain-Barré Syndrome has occurred within 6 weeks of receiving a prior flu vaccine.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
July, 2012  


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Influenza (Flu) Vaccine

Influenza (Flu)