High Dose Flu Vaccine
Medical term: Antigens are pathogenic molecules that trigger the immune system to release antibodies designed to fight infection. Vaccines contain antigens in order to alert the immune system to specific pathogens, like the flu virus, so that it’s more equipped to fight those pathogens if they later invade your body.
The higher antigen load means that even if your immune system has a weaker reaction, having more virus particles present helps your body create more antibodies ideally enough to protect you from infection, Haynes says.
A study published in 2014 found that the high dose flu vaccine was 24% more effective in preventing flu in people over 65, compared with the standard vaccine. Moreover, seniors who get the high dose vaccine are also less likely to be hospitalized for the flu.
Which Flu Vaccine Is The Most Effective
When flu vaccines are being produced, the strains included are standardized by the FDA. Each 2021-2022 vaccine includes:
Two type B viruses
This means that no matter what vaccine you choose, youre being protected against the same strains. Flu vaccines are typically between 40% and 60% effective from year to year. But when it comes to picking the right flu vaccine for you, you have to take other factors into account.
Who Can Get A Free Flu Vaccine
You can get a free flu vaccine if you are:
- aged 50 to 64 years
- living in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
- in regular contact with pigs, poultry or waterfowl
People aged 50 to 64 have been added to the free flu vaccine programme until the end of April 2022.
People with these conditions can also get a free flu vaccine:
- chronic heart disease, including acute coronary syndrome
- chronic liver disease
- chronic kidney failure
- chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , cystic fibrosis, moderate or severe asthma, or bronchopulmonary dysplasia
- chronic neurological disease including multiple sclerosis, hereditary and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system
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Other Methods Of Manufacture
Methods of vaccine generation that bypass the need for eggs include the construction of influenza virus-like particles . VLP resemble viruses, but there is no need for inactivation, as they do not include viral coding elements, but merely present antigens in a similar manner to a virion. Some methods of producing VLP include cultures of Spodoptera frugiperdaSf9 insect cells and plant-based vaccine production . There is evidence that some VLPs elicit antibodies that recognize a broader panel of antigenically distinct viral isolates compared to other vaccines in the hemagglutination-inhibition assay .
A gene-based DNA vaccine, used to prime the immune system after boosting with an inactivated H5N1 vaccine, underwent clinical trials in 2011.
On November 20, 2012, Novartis received FDA approval for the first cell-culture vaccine. In 2013, the recombinant influenza vaccine, Flublok, was approved for use in the United States.
On September 17, 2020, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency adopted a positive opinion, recommending the granting of a marketing authorization for Supemtek, a quadrivalent influenza vaccine . The applicant for this medicinal product is Sanofi Pasteur. Supemtek was approved for medical use in the European Union in November 2020.
What You Need To Know About The 2021
While no one knows for sure just how bad the upcoming flu season will be, heres some flu information we know so far:
The 2020-2021 flu season wasunusually mildcompared to whats been seen in past years. This could be due to multiple factors, including higher flu vaccination rates during 2020 and the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on social distancing and hand washing. Experts are not sure if this will be the case again for the 2021-2022 flu season.
Flu transmission rates in other countries are lower than usual so far this year. The World Health Organization meets twice a year in February and September to review flu activity around the world and recommend which strains to include in the flu vaccine. Flu transmission in the Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia can help predict what the U.S. flu season might be like. Australia had a record low number of cases of the flu during 2021. Hopefully, that means we will too.
Even though the flu vaccine doesnt protect against all strains of the flu, its still recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. The flu vaccine is typically about 40% to 60% effective, and its hard to predict if the current flu vaccines will be a good match for the strains going around. But its still one of the best ways to help prevent getting sick with the flu.
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Those Who Should Consider Having A Flu Vaccination
All those who have any condition listed above, or who are:
- aged 65 years or over
- living in a residential or nursing home
- the main carer of an older or disabled person
- a frontline health or social care worker
- children of a certain age
Those aged 50 to 64 years old will also be offered flu vaccination this year.
Which Option Is Best For You
If youre getting the flu vaccine, you may wonder whether one option is better than others. Your doctor can point you to the one that should work best for you.
In certain years, the nasal spray hasnt been recommended due to effectiveness concerns. But both the shot and the nasal spray are recommended for the 2020 to 2021 flu season.
For the most part, the flu vaccine is safe. But you should check with your doctor before getting it if you have one the following:
- a previous bad reaction to the vaccine or its ingredients
- a fever
Its not unusual to experience mild flu-like symptoms after a vaccination. These symptoms tend to disappear after one to two days. Other common side effects of the vaccine include soreness and redness at the injection site.
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People Who Should Get The Vaccine
Some people are at greater risk from the effects of flu and should get the vaccine when offered it. Theres an increased risk if you:
- are pregnant
- are aged 50 or over, even if you feel fit and healthy
- live in a residential or nursing home
- have an illness or underlying health condition
The annual flu vaccination programme also includes:
- pre-school children aged two years and over
- children at primary school and secondary school
- carers if you care for another person, you should ask your GP if you should be vaccinated so you can continue caring for them
- health and social care workers
- staff in independent care homes, hospices and domiciliary care providers
- close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
People With Illnesses Or Health Conditions
Children over six months old and adults should get the vaccine if they have:
- a chronic chest condition such as asthma
- a chronic heart condition
- lowered immunity due to disease or treatment such as steroids or cancer therapy
- a chronic neurological condition such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or a condition that affects the nervous system such as cerebral palsy
- a very high body weight
- any other serious medical condition, ask your doctor if you’re unsure
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Even Healthy People Need Vaccines
Many people still think of immunizations are for children they just don’t think of getting these, or they think, “Why should I do that if I’m healthy?”
There are other barriers to getting vaccines among adults, which were outlined in an article published by The American Journal of Medicine.
This article reported that self-reported immunization rates for tetanus, influenza and pneumococcal vaccines were lower than the national guideline goal rates. Common consumer-reported barriers included:
- Lack of physician recommendations
- Incorrect assumptions
Surveyed health care providers suggested additional barriers facing patients include:
- Fear of needles
- Perceived side effects
- Lack of insurance coverage
To increase immunization rates, it’s important to overcome these barriers, such as the widespread myth that vaccines are unsafe and commonly cause serious side effects.
Vaccines have minimal risks and are generally very safe
The risks for vaccines among people age 65 and older are the same as any population, aside from the possibility of less effectiveness with age.
Serious complications are very rare for most patients, the benefits significantly outweigh the risks involved.
The influenza vaccine is made with completely dead forms of the influenza virus, and there is no scientific way you can get the flu from the vaccine. This vaccine is generally safe for all patients over six months of age.
What Vaccines Are Available For The 2021
There are nine vaccines that have been approved and released by the FDA for the 2021-2022 flu season. This year, all FDA-approved flu vaccines are quadrivalent meaning they protect against four different strains of influenza . Heres a rundown of the available flu vaccines for the year.
Its important to note that pharmacies and healthcare providers may only carry a few brands of flu vaccine not all nine that are FDA-approved. If you are interested in or know you need a certain flu vaccine, its best to call ahead and see if your preferred vaccine is available.
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Influenza Immunisation Program Advice 2022
View a summary of the Queensland government’s 2022 influenza immunisation program advice which provides important information specific to Queensland including:
- which vaccines to give for specific age groups
- information regarding people with medical conditions who are eligible for funded influenza vaccine
- vaccine ordering and supply details.
Why Is There A Need For Flu Vaccines Designed Specifically For People 65 Years And Older
People 65 years and older are at increased risk of developing serious complications from flu compared with young, healthy adults. This is partly because human immune defenses become weaker with increasing age. During most seasons, people 65 years and older account for the majority of flu hospitalizations and deaths. In the United States, between about 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people 65 years and older. The weakened immune system can also mean that older people dont respond as well to flu vaccination. Given the higher risk of severe flu illness and lower protective immune response after vaccination among older adults, substantial research and development have led to the production of new flu vaccines intended to provide better immunity in this age group.
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How Can Influenza Be Prevented
You can reduce the risk of getting influenza or spreading it to others by:
- Washing your hands regularly
- Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that people touch
- Promptly disposing of used tissues in the waste basket or garbage
- Coughing and sneezing into your shirt sleeve rather than your hands
- Staying home when you are ill
- Getting an influenza vaccine
Getting an influenza vaccine can help prevent you from getting sick with influenza and from spreading it to others.
Allergic Reactions To The Flu Vaccine
It’s very rare for anyone to have a serious allergic reaction to the flu vaccine. If this does happen, it usually happens within minutes.
The person who vaccinates you will be trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Anyone can report a suspected side effect of a vaccine through the Yellow Card Scheme.
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Treatment For The Flu
When considering treatment for the flu, its helpful to keep these considerations in mind:
- Treating the flu should begin as soon as possible because antiviral drugs work best when started early or within 48 hours after symptoms start.
- For you to get an antiviral drug, a health care provider needs to write a prescription. These medicines fight against flu by keeping flu viruses from creating more viruses in your body.
- Antiviral drugs can make your flu milder and help make you feel better faster. They may also prevent severe health problems that can result from having the flu.
The Nasal Vaccine Contains Gelatine Derived From Pigs
The nasal vaccine contains a highly processed form of gelatine , which is used in a range of many essential medicines. The gelatine helps to keep the vaccine viruses stable so that the vaccine provides the best protection against flu.
The nasal vaccine is offered to children as it is more effective in the programme than the injected vaccine. This is because it is easier to administer and considered better at reducing the spread of flu to others, who may be more vulnerable to the complications of flu.
However, if your child is at high risk from flu due to one or more medical conditions or treatments and cant have the nasal flu vaccine they should have the flu vaccine by injection.
For those who may not accept the use of porcine gelatine in medical products, an alternative injectable vaccine is available this year. You should discuss your options with your nurse or doctor.
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Flu Vaccine Side Effects
Flu vaccines are very safe. All adult flu vaccines are given by injection into the muscle of the upper arm.
Most side effects are mild and only last for a day or so, such as:
- slightly raised temperature
- muscle aches
- sore arm where the needle went in this is more likely to happen with the vaccine for people aged 65 and over
Try these tips to help reduce the discomfort:
- continue to move your arm regularly
- take a painkiller, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen some people, including those who are pregnant, should not take ibuprofen unless a doctor recommends it
Where Can I Learn More
More information on the inactivated influenza vaccine, including possible reactions and who should not get the vaccine, can be found in the HealthLinkBC File: Inactivated Influenza Vaccine.
For answers to frequently asked questions about influenza vaccines, visit our FAQ about influenza vaccines page.
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People 65 Years And Older Enhanced Quadrivalent Vaccine
Vaccination is particularly important for people in this age group as they are at high risk of complications from influenza and have the highest influenza-associated death rates each year.
The quadrivalent influenza vaccine Fluad Quad®is provided for people aged 65 years and older. It is an adjuvanted vaccine which is a standard dose flu vaccine with an added adjuvant to help create a stronger immune response to the vaccination. The 2022 vaccine contains the same components as the vaccine provided for other age groups but has the benefit of inducing a greater immune response in older people.
The enhanced quadrivalent influenza vaccine is the best form of protection against flu for older Queenslanders for the following reasons:
- Older people do not respond as well to standard influenza vaccine as the immune system response decreases with age.
- The enhanced vaccine is designed specifically to increase the immune system’s response to the vaccine, especially against the influenza A/H3N2 strain which is more common and severe in people aged 65 years and older.
What Is The Senior Flu Shot
The senior flu shot is a vaccine developed specifically for adults age 65 and older to protect them against the flu virus. According to the CDC, seniors need stronger protection because immune systems tend to weaken with age, putting older adults at an increased risk of serious flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, other respiratory problems, hospitalizations, and even death. The flu can also worsen chronic conditions that are common in seniors like diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The senior flu shot creates a stronger immune response that helps older adults immune systems fight the flu virus more effectively than the regular flu shot. The vaccine works by stimulating the production of antibodies that protect seniors against the virus.
While older adults may get any flu vaccine approved for their age group, two flu vaccines were developed specifically for seniors: the high-dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine.
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How To Treat Flu Vaccine Side Effects If Youre Really Struggling
Although side effects shouldnt last long, theres no shame in wanting to minimize your pain. To deal with any aches or a fever, you can try an over-the-counter pain-reliever such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your arm is really sore, consider icing it to help with inflammation. Getting plenty of sleep, loading up on water, and generally trying to take it easy until you feel a bit better is always a good idea, too.
And if you have any questions about the flu vaccineif and when you should get your flu shot or nasal spray vaccine, if you should be worried about side effects, concerns about allergies, or anything elsedont hesitate to talk it over with a health care professional. Theyre there to help you make the process as seamless as possible.
Additional reporting by Korin Miller