High-dose flu vaccine may result in better health outcomes
It’s been known for many years that between 71% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 54% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in the same age group.
Jump-starting the immune response
Seniors are at greater risk of flu-related complications and death because of age-related weakening of the immune system. Having concurrent health problems and taking certain medications can further weaken the immune response. Because the flu vaccine works by stimulating immunity, scientists developed a high-dose vaccine that should be able to jump-start an older adult’s immune response.
A new study shows that it seems to be working. In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective than the standard-dose vaccine in preventing flu for seniors.
Too few seniors get vaccinated against the flu in this country—only about 66%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The high-dose vaccine has been shown to be safe, and the most common side effect has been redness and soreness at the injection site. Even late in the season, it’s important to be protected, so talk to your doctor about getting a flu shot.