High-dose vaccine may protect seniors better



Studies conducted at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute a few years ago found surprising evidence that flu vaccine was not as effective in seniors as previously thought. But now—thanks to a newer flu vaccine—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 predicted 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.

KPWHRI 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


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From Kaiser Permanente Washington 

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention