Posted at: 06/06/2013 7:11 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

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Doctors to Treat Flu Differently This Season

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Health professionals are responding to this past flu season, one of the deadliest outbreaks Minnesota has seen in years. Doctors are now taking a more personalized approach to preventing the flu.

In the past, we've had two choices of vaccinations - either a shot or nasal spray - but this year health officials are making seven different types of vaccinations available.

"Were super big about hand hygiene and just try to get our sleep and eat healthy and sometimes we'll avoid going out a ton in the winter," said Tishri Nelson of Rochester.

Mom's like Tishri Nelson do their best to have their families avoid the flu. While the virus may not be a concern for many at the moment, for state health officials the concern doesn't take a break during the off season.

"Every year we have to make our best guess as to what strains are circulating and we chose two A strains and usually one B strain, even though there are two major B strains," said Dr. Greg Poland, Director of Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group.

Dr. Greg Poland, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Mayo Clinic, says one way they will improve the vaccine this year is by covering a fourth strain.

"About half the time we think one B strain is going to circulate and a different one ends up circulating so this will be a win, win for everybody," said Poland.

The idea is that the new formula will broaden the protection against the flu, because the virus is constantly changing. They hope a more individualized approach will lead to more people getting the vaccine.

"They'll be two new vaccines available for people who have egg allergies, there's a high dose vaccine available for elderly people," said Poland.

Seven different types of vaccines are available, even one with an intradermal needle for those afraid to get shots.

"We'll pick the best vaccine for your unique age, medical conditions, level of immune competence," said Poland.

So, for Trishi Nelson, the idea of more options and better protection is a good one.

"The more they can cover as far as strains, I think in my opinion the better," said Nelson.

Dr. Poland says the B strains of influenza tend to target children and older people. So having that extra B strain in the new vaccination will hopefully prevent that from happening.