Which Influenza Vaccination Is Best For Older Adults
Looking at the list of available flu shots can be overwhelming. In looking at this years CDC table of available influenza vaccines, I counted eight options that are available for people aged 65 or older:
- 4 standard-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccines
- 1 standard-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccine manufactured with a newer cell culture-based technology
- 1 high-dose quadrivalent inactivated vaccine
- 1 standard-dose quadrivalent adjuvanted inactivated vaccine
- 1 quadrivalent recombinant vaccine
Only Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent and Fluad Quadrivalent carry an age indication specific to 65 years or older.
However, the CDC does not recommend any influenza vaccine over another, for adults aged 65 or older.
So if you are an older adult, or if youre trying to arrange a flu shot for an aging relative, which flu vaccine should you try to get?
My take is this: if you have a choice, go for one of the vaccines designed for older adults.
Why? Because we know that as people get older, their immune systems tend to respond less vigorously to immunization. And because research suggests that the high-dose flu shot generates higher antibody titers and has been associated with better influenza outcomes.
We do have more research and experience for Fluzone High-Dose than for Fluad, so unless you are enrolling in a clinical trial of Fluad, I would suggest going with the Fluzone High-Dose.
Senior Flu Shot: What You Need To Know
Each fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges Americans to get the influenza vaccine. As the U.S. continues to see the devastating effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get a senior flu shot. If your loved one is 65 or older, getting a flu shot is still important, even if theyve received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Older adults are at high risk for life-threatening complications from the flu, including hospitalizations and death. The CDC estimates the flu causes 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. The CDC also estimates up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations and 85% of deaths associated with the flu occur in seniors age 65 and older.
Ensuring your senior loved one is protected against the flu can help prevent flu-related complications and hospitalizations. Learn about the different types of senior flu shots, their effectiveness, possible side effects, and how they can prevent flu-related complications.
How To Book Your Appointment
If you’re eligible for a free flu vaccine, you can book an appointment at your GP surgery or a pharmacy that offers it on the NHS.
You may also get an invitation to get the vaccine, but you do not have to wait for this before booking an appointment.
Everyone who is eligible for the free flu vaccine will be able to get it.
GP surgeries and pharmacies get the flu vaccine in batches. If you cannot get an appointment straight away, ask if you can book an appointment for when more vaccines are available.
If you have an appointment for a COVID-19 booster vaccine at a GP surgery or pharmacy, you may also be offered a flu vaccine at the same time.
Do not delay booking your flu vaccine appointment so that you can get both vaccines together. Only some people will be offered both vaccines at the same time.
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Considerations For Getting A Covid
Its safe for your health care provider to administer a COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as other vaccines. If youre 12 years of age or older, you may get the flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. You may also get it any time before or after you receive the flu shot.
For children aged 5 to 11, the National Advisory Council on Immunization recommends a 14-day interval between a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. This is to help better monitor for possible side effects from COVID-19 vaccines. Provinces and territories will decide on an interval for this age group as part of their vaccination programs.
Talk to a health care provider or consult your provincial or territorial public health authority for the latest guidance.
Learn more about:
What Can You Do If You Get The Flu
If you get the flu, there are steps you can take to feel better. Act fast! First, talk with your health care provider. The flu and COVID-19 have similar symptoms, so you may need to get tested for an accurate diagnosis. This will also help determine which medications might make you feel better.
There are prescription drugs, called antivirals, that are used to treat people with the flu. If you take them within 48 hours after the flu begins, these drugs can make you feel better more quickly. Antivirals can also help reduce your risk of complications from flu. Antibiotics do not help you recover from the flu. Still, they are sometimes prescribed to help you recover from a secondary infection if it is caused by bacteria. Bacteria are a different type of germ than viruses.
If you are sick, rest and drink plenty of fluids like juice and water, but not alcohol. Medicine, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can bring down your fever and might help with the aches and pains. It is important not to smoke if you are sick with the flu. It is a respiratory illness that can infect your lungs as well as your nasal passages. These same areas are also affected by smoking. Take it easy as much as you can until you are well.
Monitor your symptoms and talk with your doctor if your symptoms worsen or become severe. For example, if you:
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When’s The Best Time To Get A Flu Shot During The Covid
Summers nearly over, and unfortunately, we are still very much in the throes of a pandemic. As fall approaches, theres another community health concern to contend with: flu season.
The dual threat of influenza and COVID-19 has public health experts warning of a twindemic effect that could sicken the population and overwhelm hospitals.
Social distancing, masking up, washing your hands and getting tested regularly remains the best strategy for protecting yourself against the coronavirus, but we actually have a vaccine for the flu that greatly reduces your risk of infection.
Continuing to follow the hygienic practices in place to prevent COVID-19 and getting a flu shot is your best bet for staying healthy this fall.
Heres when infectious disease specialists and primary care physicians advise you to get your flu shot and what else you need to know about the double threat of flu and the coronavirus.
What Are The Benefits Of Flu Vaccination
There are many reasons to get an influenza vaccine each year. Below is a summary of the benefits of flu vaccination and selected scientific studies that support these benefits.
Flu vaccination can keep you from getting sick with flu.
Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-associated hospitalization for children, working-age adults, and older adults.
Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions.
Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.
Flu vaccination can reduce worsening and hospitalization for flu-related chronic lung disease, such as in persons with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Flu vaccination also has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.
Flu vaccination helps protect women during and after pregnancy.
Flu vaccines can be lifesaving in children.
Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
The study finding links to support these findings can be found here:
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A Flu Vaccine Is The Best Protection Against Flu
Flu vaccination has many benefits. It has been shown to reduce flu illnesses and also to reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes that can result in hospitalization or even death in older people. Flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
The best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications is with a flu vaccine. CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, ideally by the end of October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even into January or later.
Flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. Flu vaccines are updated each season to keep up with changing viruses. Also, immunity wanes over a year so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against flu. Because immunity may decrease more quickly in older people, it is especially important that this group is not vaccinated too early . September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated for people 65 years and older.
Best Timing For Vaccination
The timing of vaccination should aim to achieve the highest level of protection during the peak of the influenza season. Flu season in Queensland is typically from June to September, with the peak usually in August.
Vaccinating from April provides protection before the peak season takes place. While protection is generally expected to last for the whole season, the best protection against influenza occurs within the first 3 to 4 months following vaccination.
It is never too late to vaccinate since influenza can circulate in the community all year round. Vaccination should continue to be offered as long as influenza viruses are circulating and a valid vaccine is available.
It is also important to remind people that the vaccine is not immediately effective and it generally takes 10 to 14 days to be fully protected.
Revaccination late in the same year for individuals who have already received a vaccination is not routinely recommended, although not contraindicated. Revaccination may be considered for people travelling to the Northern Hemisphere in late 2020, who were vaccinated in early 2020. An individual’s risk factors, risk of disease and current circulating virus strains should be taken into consideration before recommending a second dose. A second dose is not funded under the National Immunisation Program and the individual will need to pay for the vaccine and consultation fee, if applicable.
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Timing Of Influenza Vaccination
Everyone should get an annual influenza vaccine anytime from mid-April onwards to be protected for the peak flu season, which is generally June to September.
However, its never too late to be vaccinated as influenza can spread all year round.
Pregnant women should receive the vaccine at any stage during pregnancy.
What To Do If You Think You Have The Flu
Your illness might be the flu if you have fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills or fatigue . Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
If you develop flu-like symptoms and are concerned about your illness, especially if you are at high risk for complications of the flu, you should consult your health care provider. It is very difficult to distinguish the flu from other infections on the basis of symptoms alone. Most people with the flu have mild illness and do not need medical care. However, if you have symptoms of flu and are in a high risk group, or are very sick and worried about your illness, contact your health care provider. There are tests that can determine if you have the flu. There are also drugs your doctor may prescribe for treating the flu called antivirals.
If you get the flu, get plenty of rest, drink a lot of liquids, and avoid using alcohol and tobacco. Also, you can take medications such as Tylenol to relieve the fever and muscle aches associated with the flu. Never give aspirin to children or teenagers who have flu-like symptoms, particularly fever. Stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine, except to get medical care or other necessities.
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Does A Flu Vaccine Increase Your Risk Of Getting Covid
There is no evidence that getting a flu vaccine increases your risk of getting sick from a coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19.
You may have heard about a study published in January 2020 that reported an association between flu vaccination and risk of four commonly circulating seasonal coronaviruses, but not the one that causes COVID-19. This report was later found to be incorrect.
The results from that initial study led researchers in Canada to look at their data to see if they could find similar results in their population. The results from Canadas study showed that flu vaccination did not increase risk for these seasonal coronaviruses. The Canadian findings highlighted the protective benefits of flu vaccination.
The Canadian researchers also identified a flaw in the methods of the first study, noting that it violated the part of study design that compares vaccination rates among patients with and without flu . This flaw led to the incorrect association between flu vaccination and seasonal coronavirus risk. When these researchers reexamined data from the first study using correct methods, they found that flu vaccination did not increase risk for infection with other respiratory viruses, including seasonal coronaviruses.
Eligibility For The Free Influenza Vaccine
The following people are eligible to receive a free seasonal influenza vaccine:
- people aged six months to less than five years
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged six months and older
- pregnant women
- people aged 65 years and older
- people aged six months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications:
- cardiac disease
- diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- renal disease
- haematological disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
Children under nine years receiving their influenza vaccination for the first time require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month.
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Can I Get The Flu Vaccine If I Have An Egg Allergy
The influenza vaccine is typically grown in eggs. But the traces of egg protein that remain after the vaccine is made are so tiny that the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy says both adults and children with egg allergy can be safely vaccinated against the flu. The risk of anaphylaxis after vaccination is very low, estimated at 1.35 cases per 1 million doses.
It is rare for people with egg allergy to experience other side effects, such as hives, wheezing, vomiting or abdominal pain, after getting the flu shot. If you are concerned, ask your doctor if you, or your child, can be observed by staff for 30 minutes after receiving the vaccine .
Can You Get The Flu Shot And Covid
When the COVID-19 vaccine first came out, public health officials recommended spacing out the vaccine from other vaccines to make sure the shots would work properly and to mitigate possible side effects. But now, the CDC says that youre just fine to get both your flu vaccine and COVID-19 shot at the same time. The same is true whether youre getting abooster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine, or other doses.
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How Flu Vaccine Virus Strains Are Selected
Every year, in late February or early March, before that years flu season ends, the FDA, the World Health Organization , the CDC, and other public health experts collaborate on collecting and reviewing data from around the world to identify the flu viruses likely to cause the most illnesses during the next flu season.
Following that process, the FDA convenes its vaccines advisory committee, consisting of outside experts, to discuss the WHO recommendations and to consider which flu viruses are expected to circulate in the U.S. The committee also reviews data about which flu viruses have caused illnesses in the past year, how the viruses are changing, and disease trends for the U.S. The FDA takes that information into account before it selects the virus strains for FDA-licensed manufacturers to include in their vaccines for use in the U.S.
The closer the match between the virus strains chosen for the vaccine and the circulating strains causing disease during flu season, the better the protection that the flu vaccine provides. Although the vaccine and viruses may not be an exact match in some years, that does not mean the vaccine is not benefiting people. Available data show that the vaccine can reduce the severity of illness in people who get vaccinated but still get sick.
How Does The Flu Spread
The flu is contagious, which means it spreads from person to person. It mostly spreads through droplets in the air when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. It can spread from up to six feet away. Although it isnt as common, the flu can also spread from surfaces, for example, if you touch something the virus is on and then touch your nose, mouth, or eyes.
It’s possible to spread the flu before you feel sick and when you have symptoms. Typically, people with the flu can spread it a day before, and up to a week after feeling sick. Young children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to spread the flu for even longer. If you or someone you know is sick with the flu, take steps to help prevent spreading the disease.
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