The 5 Vaccines Every Person Over Age 65 Should Consider
Vaccines are not just a childhood past time. They play an important role in protecting you in every phase of life. And they become particularly important during the elder years when risks to certain diseases climb higher.
For older patients in assisted living or those in larger, more populated care settings, vaccinations are even more important, as exposure risk to communicable diseases like COVID-19, the flu and pneumonia are higher.
Certain vaccines are proven to be safe and very effective in preventing several diseases that can have very serious implications for aging populations.
AdventHealth explains how five important vaccines can help keep people age 65 and older as healthy and vibrant as possible.
Who Should Not Have The Flu Vaccine
Most adults can have the flu vaccine, but you should avoid it if you have had a serious allergic reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
You may be at risk of an allergic reaction to the flu vaccine injection if you have an egg allergy. This is because some flu vaccines are made using eggs.
Ask a GP or pharmacist for a low-egg or egg-free vaccine.
If you’re ill with a high temperature, it’s best to wait until you’re better before having the flu vaccine.
Which Vaccine Should I Get
The two vaccines have not been compared head to head, so it isn’t known which one is better. The available data suggest they are similar to each other.
In practice, what vaccine you’ll receive will depend on what’s available at your GP or pharmacy.
It is important to note these vaccines are only recommended for use in people 65 years of age or older, and are not recommended for use in people under this age.
The standard vaccine will still be available for younger people. There are no data to support the use of multiple doses of vaccines of the same or different types.
Neither of the new vaccines is perfect they simply reduce your risk of getting flu to a slightly greater effect than the standard vaccine. Like other flu vaccines, there is still the chance the vaccine strains don’t match what’s circulating.
Despite the common perception the flu is a mild illness, it causes a significant number of deaths worldwide.
To make an impact on this, we need better vaccines, better access to vaccines worldwide and new strategies, such as increasing the rate of vaccination in childhood.
Allen Cheng is professor in infectious disease epidemiology at Monash University.
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What Is In This Years High
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent the high-dose flu vaccine is an inactivated influenza vaccine. This means it contains a certain amount of dead flu viruses . Because the viruses in the shot are dead, you cannot get sick with influenza from the vaccine.
The high-dose flu vaccine is a quadrivalent vaccine, meaning it contains four different strains of the influenza virus. The vaccines exact composition changes every year in an effort to match the strains expected to circulate during flu season .
This years high-dose flu vaccine includes the following strains:
Two type A influenza viruses H1N1 and H3N2
Two type B influenza viruses Victoria and Yamagata lineages
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is an egg-based vaccine, meaning chicken eggs were used to create the vaccine. If you have an egg allergy, its best to discuss this with your healthcare provider before getting your flu vaccine.
Most people with egg allergies are still able to receive egg-based flu vaccines. But if you are advised to avoid egg-based vaccines, there are flu vaccine options available that are made without eggs .
The vaccine also includes the following inactive ingredients to help create and stabilize the shot:
Formaldehyde an ingredient that kills the virus during vaccine production
Sodium chloride the liquid that the virus is placed in to allow it to be injected
The syringe the vaccine comes in is not made with rubber latex, so its safe for people with latex allergies to receive it.
Why Should Older Adults Get The Flu Shot
The flu shot is especially important for older adults because they tend to have weaker immune systems.
When the immune system isnt strong, it becomes harder for the body to fight off infections. Likewise, a weaker immune system can lead to flu-related complications.
Secondary infections that can develop with the flu include:
- ear infections
People ages 65 and older are at higher risk for serious complications. In fact, its estimated that as many as 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths occur in people ages 65 and older. Plus, up to 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people ages 65 and older.
If you become ill after getting a vaccination, a flu shot may lessen the severity of symptoms of the illness.
Protecting yourself from the flu is increasingly important while COVID-19 is a factor.
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Flu Vaccine And Coronavirus
Flu vaccination is important because:
- more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic
- if you get flu and COVID-19 at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
- getting vaccinated against flu and COVID-19 will provide protection for you and those around you for both these serious illnesses
If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It will still be effective at helping to prevent flu.
And The Survey Says: More Doctors Prefer The High
The new healthcare provider survey was conducted by Ipsos, the worlds third-largest insights and analytical company, and sponsored by Sanofi, the manufacturer of the vaccine. The 700 respondents were a mix of licensed primary care physicians, pharmacists, cardiologists, and pulmonologists.
These healthcare providers were presented with three different vaccine options in a blinded format: Fluzone , Fluzone Quadrivalent , and Fluad Quadrivalent , and asked a series of questions about their preferences.
Nearly 74 percent of survey respondents said they would recommend a vaccine with the clinical profile of Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent for patients 65 years of age and older over another flu vaccine designed for this population, or over a standard-dose influenza vaccine.
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People At High Risk Of Complications From The Flu
- people with health conditions, such as:
- cancer and other immune compromising conditions
- kidney disease
- neurological or neurodevelopmental conditions
- children up to 18 years of age undergoing treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid
Will There Be Enough High
The CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, ideally by the end of October. Because immunity may decrease more quickly in older people, it is especially important that people 65 and older are not vaccinated too early September and October are generally good times, per the agency.
I think it makes sense for people 65 and older to get a high-dose flu shot, and I am hoping that if this becomes CDC policy that there will be enough supply for people to follow the recommendation, says Auwaerter.
Typically, when the CDC makes a new recommendation, theres not always an idea fit between supply and demand, he explains.
Certainly, for a motivated senior who wants to get the recommended high-dose flu vaccine, you can call around and see if have it on hand, says Auwaerter.
Should you put off getting the high-dose flu vaccine if your doctors office or pharmacy doesnt have it in stock? Both Auwaerter and the CDC agree that if people 65 and older dont have access to one of the high-dose or adjuvanted vaccines, they should get a standard-dose flu vaccine instead.
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Talk To Your Doctor About Your Immunizations
It’s important to sit down with your doctor and open the conversation about vaccinations to customize an immunization schedule that is best for you.
While the pneumonia vaccine is generally recommended for people over age 65, some younger people might need this vaccine because of a medical condition or situation or, if you have potential exposure to hepatitis A or B like health care workers, this vaccine might be recommended.
Talk to your doctor who can assess your risk for diseases and help you to determine what is best for your preventive health.
Who Needs To Get A High
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is only FDA-approved for people over 65, so if youre younger than that, you should stick to the regular dose vaccine. Speak with your healthcare provider to decide which available flu vaccine is the best option for you.
If youre over 65 and questioning your flu vaccines options, contact your healthcare provider. Theyll let you know which of the three CDC-recommended flu vaccines for people over 65 is the best for you.
If your pharmacy or healthcare providers office doesnt have high-dose flu vaccines in stock, its recommended to get vaccinated with a regular dose vaccine instead of waiting for Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent to be restocked. A regular dose vaccine will still offer you protection against the flu.
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The Astrazeneca Vaccine Will Likely Be Up For Approval In The Us In The Spring
AstraZeneca will likely not be able to apply for approval for its vaccine in the U.S. until the spring, Business Insider reports. During the original trial, a portion of participants over the age of 55 were mistakenly given a half-dose for their first shot. Due to this error, AstraZeneca is waiting for the results of a larger U.S.-based trial to present information to the Food and Drug Administration . Enrollment in AstraZeneca’s 30,000 person U.S. trial began in September and Phase 3 is currently underway. The results of that trial will hopefully prove the vaccine’s efficaciousness for those over 65.
After getting the okay from the FDA, the vaccine will also have to be approved by the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices , which means we likely won’t see this vaccine in the U.S. until the summer at the earliest. To see which side effects could come with your second dose, check out Dr. Fauci Says He Had These Side Effects From His Second Vaccine Dose.
How Much Better Are These Vaccines
Compared to the standard flu vaccine, the high-dose version has been shown to better stimulate the immune system of older users to make protective antibodies.
It has been shown to better reduce rates of flu infection in over-65s than the standard vaccine.
And, interestingly, it also seems to protect against pneumonia.
One common criticism of clinical trials is that they don’t include the types of people who are found in the “real world”.
But population-based observational studies suggest the high-dose vaccine is more protective than the standard-dose vaccine where H3N2 is the predominant circulating strain as it was last year.
What about the Fluad vaccine?
Compared to the standard vaccine, adjuvanted flu vaccine has been shown to better stimulate the immune system of older users to make protective antibodies.
Unlike the high-dose vaccine, there have not been clinical trials that show a difference in infection rates compared with the standard vaccine.
But observational data suggests the adjuvanted vaccine is more protective against hospitalisation with influenza or pneumonia to a similar degree as the high-dose vaccine.
One problem with both these vaccines is that they only contain three strains, rather than the four strains in the current vaccine.
The strain missing from the new vaccines is an influenza B type.
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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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Where Can I Get An Influenza Vaccine
Influenza vaccines are provided at a wide variety of locations across the province, including:
- Pharmacies .
- Doctors’ offices
- Travel clinics
Services vary by location. You can use our influenza clinic locator to find an influenza vaccine clinic near you.
To find a pharmacy offering the influenza vaccine near you, please visit this link. You may be able to book your influenza vaccine online or by phone, and some pharmacies are accepting walk-ins.
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What Is The Pneumonia Shot
The pneumonia shot is a vaccine that keeps you from getting pneumonia. There are two types of vaccines. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine is primarily for children under age two, though it can be given to older ages, as well. The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine is for adults over age 65.
The pneumonia vaccine for older adults is one dose. Unlike the flu vaccine, you donât get it every year.
The vaccine teaches your body to make proteins that will destroy the pneumonia bacteria. These proteins are called antibodies and they will protect you and keep you from getting infected. The pneumonia vaccines donât have live bacteria or viruses in them, so you wonât get pneumonia from the vaccine.
You should have the pneumonia vaccine if you:
- Are over age 65
- Have a long-term health problem
- Protection against 23 strains of pneumonia bacteria
When Should Seniors Get A Flu Shot: September October
With flu and Covid-19 going around this year, the CDC recommends that everyone should get vaccinated in September or before the end of October especially adults over age 65.
After getting the shot, it takes about 2 weeks for the protective flu antibodies to develop in the body.
So, the sooner your older adult and you get the shot, the sooner youll both have protection against the flu.
But experts agree that getting the shot at any time is still much better than not getting it at all.
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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.
What Are The Side Effects Of A High
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalents side effects are similar to those seen with other flu vaccines but happen more often. Side effects are generally mild. Pain where the vaccine was received is the most commonly experienced side effect.
Other common side effects include:
A general feeling of discomfort
Redness or swelling where you received the vaccine
Its important to note that you cannot get sick with influenza from an inactivated flu vaccine. However, some people do experience flu-like symptoms after receiving their vaccine. This is expected and will get better within about 1 to 2 days.
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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.