Seniors Urged To Prepare For Flu Season
Seniors across NSW are being encouraged to protect themselves against the flu by getting vaccinated.
Minister for Seniors Mark Coure said people aged 65 and over can book in a free flu shot at pharmacies and GPs.
Getting the flu vaccine reduces your risk of getting the flu by up to 60 per cent and most importantly it provides vital protection against severe illness and death, Mr Coure said.
This is especially important for those who are immunocompromised or living in close proximity to someone who is susceptible to serious illness from influenza.
Mr Coure said vaccination against flu is especially important this year, given COVID-19 is also circulating in the community.
We have come a long way and have a strong COVID-19 vaccination rate, but it is important to take any additional steps we can to protect ourselves and others as we head into the winter months, Mr Coure said.
The flu shot and COVID-19 booster can be given at the same time, so if you are yet to get either, make sure to book in today.
People aged 65 and over are recommended to have the enhanced quadrivalent vaccine , which stimulates a greater immune response in this age group, known to have a weaker response to vaccination.
Those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from influenza are eligible for a free flu vaccine under the National Immunisation Program and include:
Who Is Most At Risk
Complications from the flu can include serious conditions, like pneumonia or heart attacks and, in some cases, death. Flu causes about 12,200 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths in Canada each year.
Some people are more vulnerable to complications and hospitalization from the flu:
- babies under 6 months old are too young to get the flu shot, but they’ll get some protection if their parent got the flu shot while they were pregnant
- children under 5 years of age, because their immune systems are developing, and their airways are small and more easily blocked
- people 65 years old and older, because their immune systems are weaker and they are more likely to have an underlying condition that increases their risk
- pregnant people, because their immune system, heart and lungs change especially later in pregnancy making them more likely to get seriously ill from the flu
- people with underlying health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes
A Higher Dose Specifically Formulated For Adults 65+
As you age, your immune system weakens.Which means your antibody response to vaccines isnt as high as it used to be. Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine is made for people 65+
The Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine provides 4x the amount of antigens for each influenza strain contained in the vaccine compared to standard-dose influenza vaccines. The higher dose is intended to give people 65 years and older a better immune response and, therefore, better protection against the flu.
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Types Of Flu Shots For People 65 And Older
People 65 years and older should get a flu shot, not a nasal spray vaccine. They can get any flu vaccine approved for use in their age group with no preference for any one vaccine over another. There are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 years and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for this age group:
High Dose and Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine Side Effects
The high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the temporary, mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose seasonal flu shots. Side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache and malaise, and typically resolve with 1 to 3 days.
Us Advisory Panel Recommends Stronger Flu Shots For Seniors
An advisory panel for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Wednesday that people ages 65 years and older choose higher-dose flu shots or ones that include an ingredient to boost immune response.
The CDC commonly adopts the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, but in the past it has not advised older adults to get a particular flu shot.
The CDC says older people are both at a higher risk for more serious illness from the flu and tend to have a lower protective immune response.
The advisory committee said that while its preference is for the higher-dose shots or adjuvanted flu vaccines, if one of those options is not available, people age 65 and older should still be vaccinated with a standard flu vaccine.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.
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New Research Comparing The New Fluzone High
Old age is no place for sissies, the film actress Bette Davis observed late in her life while lying in a hospital bed. When this years influenza season comes around, Americans over age 65 will be gently reminded of this fact as theyre urged and prodded to get their annual flu shot. And, more than two-thirds of seniors do so these days – not the 90 percent that public health experts have called for, but a lot better than the woefully low 30 percent vaccination rate in this age group just 20 years ago.
People over 65 years of age, and particularly those well beyond 65, are hit especially hard by seasonal influenza. In fact, in this age group, a case of the flu is most likely to lead to serious or life-threatening complications, especially in those with chronic pre-existing conditions, such as cardiac and pulmonary disease. In the elderly in particular, a bout of the flu also can progress to primary influenza pneumonia or secondary bacterial pneumonia.
Why The Flu Vaccine Matters For Older People
The CDC currently recommends that everyone who is 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine, but the agency particularly stresses the importance of people aged 65 and up getting vaccinated.
People in this age group are at higher risk of developing serious complications of the flu, including pneumonia and multi-organ failure, compared to those who are younger and healthy, due to changes in the immune system with age.
An estimated 70- to 80% of flu-related deaths have happened in people who are 65 and up, and 50- to 70% of hospitalizations due to the flu happen in this age group.
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Better Protection Against The Flu
As noted earlier, better HI antibody responses are known to correlate with protection against influenza infection and reduced clinical disease risk. Yet while it is very encouraging that Fluzone HD induces higher serum antibody titers without significant safety concerns, the jury is still out on whether this actually translates into fewer confirmed cases and serious complications from the flu.
As a condition of licensure under FDAs accelerated approval process, the agency instructed Sanofi Pasteur to conduct a head-to-head study to compare Fluzone HD and Fluzone in 27,000 to 30,000 adult subjects 65 years of age and older. That study will be conducted over three flu seasons to try to account for typical fluctuation in vaccine efficacy, which is related to differences between the flu virus that arrives and the strains picked in advance to make the vaccine. The first season is already enrolled, with the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons to follow. Until that study is finished and the results are known, Fluzone HDs labeling informs providers and recipients that there have been no controlled studies demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose.
Adjuvanted Inactivated Flu Vaccine
Another vaccine specifically designed for seniors is the adjuvanted, inactivated flu vaccine. An adjuvant is a substance that increases your body’s reaction to virus proteins.
Medical term: Inactivated flu shots contain dead flu viruses. The antigens in the vaccine still provoke an immune response so you build up antibodies against the flu virus. Inactivated flu vaccines are typically recommended for people who are pregnant, are over the age of 65, or who have certain medical conditions.
The substance added to the adjuvanted flu vaccine is squalene oil, also called MF59, which is found naturally in plants and animals. “This gives an extra boost to the immune response to the vaccine which will then lead to greater protection from infection,” Haynes says.
Because the adjuvanted vaccine spikes your immune response, it may also have more side effects than the standard vaccine, including irritation at the injection site, muscle aches, and headache. However, the vaccine offers great protection for seniors a 2020 study found that people over 65 who got the adjuvanted vaccine were less likely to be hospitalized for the flu, compared with those who got the standard vaccine.
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Who Can Receive Fluzone High
In the United States, Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is licensed only for people 65 years and older. Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is not recommended for people with a history of severe allergic reaction to the vaccine or to ingredients other than eggs. Information about vaccine ingredients is located in package inserts from each manufacturer.
How Safe Is Fluzone High
Some side effects were reported more frequently after vaccination with trivalent Fluzone High-Dose than after standard-dose inactivated flu vaccines. The most common side effects experienced during clinical studies were mild and temporary, and included pain, redness at the injection site, headache, muscle aches, and malaise. Most people had minimal or no side effects after receiving the Fluzone High-Dose. In a study comparing Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent with trivalent Fluzone High-Dose, some of these side effects were slightly more common with the quadrivalent vaccine, but most were mild and resolved within a few days.
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Which Vaccines Do Older Adults Need
As you get older, a health care provider may recommend vaccinations, also known as shots or immunizations, to help prevent certain illnesses.
Talk with a doctor or pharmacist about which of the following vaccines you need. Make sure to protect yourself as much as possible by keeping your vaccinations up to date.
Where Can Seniors Get A Flu Shot
Several locations offer senior flu shots, including doctors offices, local health departments, and pharmacies.
You may be worried about taking your senior relative to get a flu shot this year if COVID-19 is still spreading in your community. However, the CDC says its especially important for seniors and others who are at increased risk for flu complications to get vaccinated.
There are certain steps your loved one can take to stay safe when going to get the flu shot:
- Wear a mask to the vaccine appointment.
- If your loved one has a fever, hold off on vaccinating them until theyre feeling better.
- Wash hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
View CDC guidelines for more information on protecting yourself and senior relatives from the seasonal flu as well as COVID-19.
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How Effective Is The Flu Shot For Seniors
The flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but its still one of the best ways to prevent the flu, according to the CDC. The regular flu vaccine seems to be less effective in seniors than it is in younger adults. However, PubMed studies have found the high-dose senior flu shot better protects older adults against the flu when compared with the standard flu vaccine.
Getting vaccinated also seems to reduce the severity of illness for people who get sick with the flu, according to the CDC. In fact, researchers have found that flu vaccinations in recent years have reduced the need for flu-related hospitalizations among older adults by 40%.
When Should I Get My Flu Shot This Year New Cdc Guidance For People 65 And Older
Flu season typically starts in the U.S. in October before peaking between December and February and extending into May.
Even as COVID-19 continues to circulate, flu is lurking in the background.
Flu season typically starts in the U.S. in October before peaking between December and February and extending into May. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes about two weeks after vaccination for flu antibodies to develop in the body, so timing comes into play when scheduling your influenza vaccine.
Most people need only one dose of flu vaccine for the season, making September and October a good time to be vaccinated. Ideally, according to CDC, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October.
Some more guidance from CDC:
New guidance for seniors
The CDC does not recommend any particular flu vaccine for people younger than age 65. It does have preferential vaccines for those ages 65 and older, and thats new guidance this year.
For people 65 years and older, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended over standard-dose, unadjuvanted flu vaccines. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine, CDC said.
If those arent available, the CDC recommends getting any available vaccine.
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This Flu Seasons New Arrival: Fluzone High
For the first time since the flu vaccines introduction in the 1940s, Americans aged 65 and older will have the option of receiving a high-potency flu vaccine during the current 2010-2011 season. Last Decembers FDA approval of Sanofi Pasteurs Fluzone High-Dose proves once again that sometimes successful ideas also are the simplest ones. Instead of the 15 micrograms of each of the three hemagglutinin viral surface antigens included in standard TIV preparations, Fluzone HD delivers 60 mcg – four times as much – in the same 0.5 mL dose for intramuscular injection. A different colored syringe plunger distinguishes it from regular Fluzone provided in a prefilled syringe. Everything else about the two products is the same. Immunogenicity findings from three clinical trials in persons 65 years of age and older demonstrate that Fluzone HD elicits substantially higher hemagglutinin inhibition titers than the standard dose. In the largest of these studies, the mean post-vaccination antibody titer elicited by Fluzone HD against the A/H1NI, A/H3N2 and B flu strains was 70 percent, 80 percent and 30 percent higher, respectively, than the titer elicited by the standard-dose vaccine. Additional important evidence of the enhanced immunogenicity of Fluzone HD is revealed by comparative seroconversion and seroprotection findings, as summarized in Table 2.
How Does Influenza Spread
Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing or having face-to-face contact. The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person or object and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.
Symptoms can begin about 1 to 4 days, or an average of 2 days, after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms usually last 7 to 10 days, but the cough and weakness may last 1 to 2 weeks longer.
An infected person can spread the influenza virus even before feeling sick. An adult can spread the virus from about 1 day before to 5 days after symptoms start. Young children and people with weakened immune systems may be able to spread the virus for a longer period of time.
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What To Do If Your Older Parent Or Relative Is Unwilling Or Unable To Get Vaccinated
Now, what if your older parent wont, or cant, get a flu shot?
Some older adults just dont want to get it. Here are some things you can try:
- Ask them to clarify what their concerns are. Its important to start by listening, in order to understand what an older person believes about the flu and the flu shot.
- Provide information to dispel myths and misunderstandings. Sometimes all people need is a little of the right kind of information.
- Point out that it can benefit an older persons family members and neighbors. Getting a flu shot can reduce the risk that we pass the flu on to another person. People are sometimes more willing to take action to protect others than to protect their own health.
- Make sure they know they wont have to pay for the flu shot. If you get the shot from a provider who takes Medicare, it shouldnt cost anything.
- Offer to go together to get your flu shots. Sometimes it helps to make it a family outing.
There are also some older adults for whom its hard to get a flu shot, such as people who are homebound or have very limited transportation options.
If this is your situation, the main thing to do is encourage flu shots for family and others coming to the house. For older adults who dont get out much, their main source of exposure to influenza and other dangerous viruses will be from those who come to them.
Above all, dont panic if your older loved one cant or wont get a flu shot.
This article was reviewed and updated in October 2021.
Can Seniors Get A Covid
COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots may cause side effects similar to senior flu shots. It is still unknown whether coadministration of these vaccines leads to more reactivity to ingredients, sensitivity, or side effects, according to the CDC.
If youve received or are planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster along with a senior flu shot, heres what you need to know:
- After at least six months of receiving the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, you are eligible for a booster shot.
- If you received Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines, you are currently not eligible for a booster shot.
- The Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot has been authorized for people 65 and older and for high-risk individuals.
- Getting the senior flu shot will not offer protection against COVID-19 and vice versa.
- COVID-19 vaccines may be administered with flu vaccines, although it is still unknown whether vaccine side effects increase with coadministration, according to the CDC.
You should first consult your loved ones doctor to figure out what could work best for them.
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