High-dose vaccine may protect seniors better



Studies conducted at Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) a few years ago found surprising evidence that flu vaccine was not as effective in seniors as previously thought. But now—thanks to a new flu vaccine being distributed this flu season—seniors are getting more protection against serious seasonal flu viruses. Called Fluzone High-Dose, the new vaccine has four times as much antigen—the material that creates immune response—as regular flu vaccines. In tests, it proved about 24 percent more effective than regular flu vaccine.

This is good news for people over age 65 because they have weaker immune systems, making it harder for them to fight off new infections.

Getting a high-dose flu shot is no guarantee that seniors won’t get sick this season, however. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that even the new improved vaccine will only work in 61 percent of seniors who get the shot. Still, it’s better than the regular vaccine that is effective only about half the time in seniors.

GHRI Assistant Investigator Michael Jackson, PhD, MPH, encourages people of all ages to get a flu shot. “Your chances of staying well are better with the vaccine than without it,” he said.

It also makes sense for seniors—and everybody else—to follow this advice during flu season:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue into the trash after you use it. Or cough into your elbow (not your hands).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs are spread that way.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.


by Joan DeClaire

Learn more

From Group Health Research Institute

From Group Health Cooperative

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention