Flu season is here. It is time to get vaccinated. There is no excuse not to. Plenty of vaccine is available from multiple sources: your doctor's office, your local pharmacy, at work (if your company sponsors a flu vaccine clinic), and even in many airports (including Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta.) This year, there are many formulations to choose from.
For seniors, new evidence presented to ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) at the CDC last week clears up confusion about which is best: the high dose flu shot is superior!
There is only one high dose flu vaccine currently available. Named Fluzone High Dose and made by Sanofi Pasteur, it was FDA approved in December 2009 for adults age 65 and older. This vaccine is four times stronger than standard flu vaccine. It was designed this way to improve immune response. It does have downsides: of slightly more injection site reactions, and double the price of standard flu vaccine. Until now, there was not proof that it worked better for seniors. Now there is.
32,000 adult seniors living in the United States and Canada were followed the last two flu seasons. The high dose shot was more effective in seniors: 24% better at preventing flu than the standard flu shot.
Case closed: For seniors, the high dose flu shot is superior to standard formulations. The current high dose flu vaccine is trivalent, and covers 3 strains of flu. Some newer standard dose flu vaccines are quadrivalent and cover four – which may bring an even better high dose flu vaccine to market.
While this new evidence the high dose flu shot provides seniors greater protection is exciting, flu vaccination with the standard dose is better than none at all.
Remember flu can kill. Seasonal influenza infection is serious. It causes illness, hospitalizations, and deaths every year in the United States. Don't become a statistic. Stay protected. Get vaccinated.