Tuesday, March 21, 2023

What Is The Flu Shot For Seniors

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Data from clinical trials comparing Fluzone to Fluzone High-Dose among people 65 years and older indicated that a stronger immune response occured after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that the high-dose vaccine was 24% more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years and older relative to a standard-dose vaccine. Another study published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine reported that people 65 years and older who got Fluzone High-dose had a lower risk of hospital admission compared with people in that age group who got the standard-dose Fluzone, especially those living in long-term care facilities. This study was conducted during the 2013-14 flu season among more than 38,000 resident of 823 nursing homes in 38 states.

For the 2021-22 season, all Fluzone High-Dose vaccine will be quadrivalent. Data comparing the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent with standard-dose inactivated quadrivalent vaccines are not yet available.

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.

What Other Flu Vaccines Are Available For People 65 Years And Older

In addition to Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, one other influenza vaccine is licensed specifically for people 65 years and older. The adjuvanted flu vaccine,FLUAD Quadrivalent, contains an adjuvant, an ingredient intended to help improve immune response.

One recombinant influenza vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent , is available during the 20202021 influenza season. Flublok Quadrivalent was first licensed by the FDA in the United States for use in adults 18 years and older in 2017. An earlier trivalent version was licensed in 2013 but was later replaced by the quadrivalent version. A new CDC study showed that flu shots made using recombinant technology produced a better antibody response among health care personnel compared with both cell-based and traditional flu shots.

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What Are The Risks Of Not Getting Vaccinated For Senior Citizens

Serious illness and death are the risks of not getting vaccinated for senior citizens. If you decide not to get vaccinated, this can also put the people who you are in close contact with at higher risk of getting sick. If enough people decide not to get vaccinated, it can make it more difficult to reach herd immunity, when it is harder for an infectious disease to actively spread in a community.

How Can Influenza Be Prevented

The Flu Shot for Seniors

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.

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Path To Improved Health

Pneumococcal vaccines can protect you against getting pneumonia, which is contagious and spreads from close, person-to-person contact. Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and can lead to many symptoms, including:

  • cough
  • chest pains
  • bringing up mucus when you cough

For seniors, pneumonia can be very serious and life-threatening. This is especially true if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or COPD. Pneumonia can also develop after youve had a case of the flu or a respiratory virus such as COVID-19. It is extremely important to stay current on flu shots each year in addition to your pneumococcal vaccines.

While PPSV23 and PCV13 do not protect against all types of pneumonia, they can make it less likely that you will experience severe and possibly life-threatening complications from the illness.

The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends that seniors who have not had either pneumococcal vaccine should get a dose of PCV13 first, and then a dose of PPSV23 6-12 months later. The vaccines cannot be given at the same time. If you have recently had a dose of PPSV23, your doctor will wait at least one year to give you PCV13.

What To Know About Flu Shots For Older Adults

Q: Is the flu vaccine effective for older adults?

A: You may have heard people say that the flu shot doesnt work in older people. This is not entirely correct.

Now, its true that flu vaccine is usually less effective in older adults because aging immune systems tend to not respond as vigorously to the vaccine. In other words, older adults tend to create fewer antibodies in response to vaccination. So if they are later exposed to flu virus, they have a higher chance of falling ill, compared to younger adults.

But less effective doesnt mean not at all effective. For the 2017-2018 flu season, the CDC estimates that vaccination prevented about 700,000 influenza cases and 65,000 hospitalizations, for adults aged 65 and older.

For more on the effectiveness of influenza vaccination in older adults, see:

To provide more effective vaccination to aging immune systems, vaccine makers have developed stronger vaccines against the flu, which I explain in the next section.

Q: Are there flu shots specifically designed for older adults?

Yes, over the past several years, vaccine makers have developed vaccines that are designed to work better with an aging immune system. Most research studies to date show that these stimulate aging immune systems to produce more antibodies to influenza. Theres also some evidence that these vaccines reduce the risk of being hospitalized for influenza.

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What Are The Options For Kids

A needle isn’t necessarily the most comfortable experience for anyone, but children between the ages of two and 17 have the choice of receiving their vaccination through a nasal spray called FluMist.

“In the studies that have been done of this product it seems to perform very well in kids, but less well in adults,” Naus said.

The spray hasn’t been available in recent years, but it’s back for this season and can be obtained from your local health unit, as well as some pharmacies and doctors’ offices.

However, it’s not an option for toddlers under the age of two, who will still require a shot from their doctor.

Shingles Vaccine For Older Adults

Seniors: Did you get your flu shot?

Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. As you get older, the virus could become active again and cause shingles.

Shingles affects the nerves. Common symptoms include burning, shooting pain, tingling, and/or itching, as well as a rash with fluid-filled blisters. Even when the rash disappears, the pain can remain. This is called post-herpetic neuralgia, or PHN.

The shingles vaccine is safe, and it may keep you from getting shingles and PHN. Healthy adults age 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, which is given in two doses.

You should get a shingles vaccine even if youve already had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, or if you don’t remember whether you had chickenpox. You should also get the shingles vaccine if you’ve already had shingles or received Zostavax. However, you should not get a vaccine if you currently have shingles, are sick or have a fever, have a weakened immune system, or have had an allergic reaction to Shingrix. Check with a health care provider if you are not sure what to do.

You can get the shingles vaccine at a doctors office and at some pharmacies. Medicare Part D and private health insurance plans may pay some or all of the cost. Check with Medicare or your health plan to find out if it is covered.

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The Effort To Inoculate

Hashmi expects that the process to inoculate older adults living in LTCFs will be fairly straightforward because it’s easier to get vaccines to people in a defined geographical setting.

However, Hashmi also thinks that it will be more difficult to prioritize older people who live in the general community and get them to a vaccine distribution centerespecially if they are frail or do not have easy or reliable transportation.

Those distribution details will be worked out in the coming weeks, but Hashmi’s larger concern is convincing older adults to get vaccinated in the first place.

According to a Pew Research Center survey, in November 2020, an estimated 60% of Americans said they would “definitely” or “probably” get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were available today.

When the responses were broken down by age, 75% of adults age 65 and up said that they would “definitely” or “probably” get vaccinatedthe highest likelihood among all age groups. Interestingly, that percentage had decreased from 84% when people were surveyed back in May.

V Choice Of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine: Additional Information

With the recent availability of a number of new influenza vaccines, some of which are designed to enhance immunogenicity in specific age groups, the choice of product is now more complex. Section II.5 summarizes NACI’s recommendations on the choice of currently authorized influenza vaccines. This section provides more details for these recommendations.

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Ii3 Vaccine Products Authorized For Use In Canada

This section describes the influenza vaccine products that are authorized for use in Canada for the 2020-2021 season. All influenza vaccines available in Canada have been authorized by Health Canada. However, not all products authorized for use are necessarily available in the marketplace. The vaccine manufacturers determine whether they will make any or all of their products available in a given market. Provincial and territorial health authorities then determine which of the products available for purchase will be used in their respective publicly funded influenza immunization programs and for which population groups.

The antigenic characteristics of circulating influenza virus strains provide the basis for selecting the strains included in each year’s vaccine. Vaccine selection by the WHO generally occurs more than 6 months prior to the start of the influenza season to allow time for the vaccine manufacturers to produce the required quantity of vaccine. All manufacturers that distribute influenza vaccine products in Canada confirm to Health Canada that the vaccines to be marketed in Canada for the upcoming influenza season contain the WHO’s recommended antigenic strains for the Northern Hemisphere. Vaccine producers may use antigenically equivalent strains because of their growth properties.

Standard-dose inactivated influenza vaccine

Both trivalent and quadrivalent products are authorized for use in Canada.

Adjuvanted inactivated influenza vaccine

What Seniors Should Know About Flu Shots

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To help separate fact from fiction when it comes to the vaccine, we have pulled together the most common myths associated with flu shots.

Myth #1: If I get a flu shot, I will develop a mild case of the flu because that is how the shot helps me build resistance to the flu

FACT: This is the most popular and persistent myth about the flu shot. It often keeps older adults from agreeing to have it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control , the agency that has oversight for the flu vaccine, the answer is a resounding NO. The influenza vaccine does not give you a mild case of the flu to build up resistance. The CDC explains it this way:

A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. The viruses contained in flu shots are inactivated , which means they cannot cause infection. Flu vaccine manufacturers kill the viruses used in the flu shot during the process of making vaccine, and batches of flu vaccine are tested to make sure they are safe.

Myth #2: If I get the flu vaccine too early I wont be protected for the entire flu season

FACT: The flu shot generally protects you for one full year. Experts advise seniors to be vaccinated in mid-October or November every year, although while the virus is still active it is never to late to get vaccinated.

Myth #3: You can skip receiving the vaccine for a few years and still be safe

Myth #4: If you catch the flu before you have time to receive the vaccine you dont need to get flu shot

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Who Should Not Get The Influenza Vaccine

Speak with a health care provider if you:

  • Have had a life-threatening reaction to a previous dose of influenza vaccine, or any part of the vaccine. People with egg allergies can be safely immunized with the influenza vaccine
  • Have had severe oculo-respiratory syndrome after getting an influenza vaccine
  • Are receiving a checkpoint inhibitor to treat cancer. This may affect when you should get the vaccine
  • Developed Guillain-Barré Syndrome within 8 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine without another cause being identified

GBS is a rare condition that can result in weakness and paralysis of the body’s muscles. It most commonly occurs after infections. In rare cases GBS can also occur after some vaccines. GBS may be associated with influenza vaccine in about 1 per million recipients.

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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When Should I Get Vaccinated

The simple answer is sooner rather than later.

The flu season changes every year. While it typically peaks in January or February, in years past it has begun as early as October and calmed down as late as May.

The CDC recommends getting the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, as its protection lasts throughout the flu season.

Vaccine manufactures are expected to make 135 to 139 million vaccination doses this year. During last years flu season, which affected 48 states, many areas reported vaccine shortages in February because of rushes when the flu seasons peak was worse than expected.

The flu shot is offered at doctors offices, pharmacies, and other healthcare centers nationwide.

Should Everyone 65 Years

The flu vaccine: explained

The immune system weakens as humans age. This places older individuals at greater risk of severe illness. Aging also affects the immune systems ability to respond to threats. A higher dose flu shot gives older people a better immune response and better protection.

Check with a healthcare professional if this vaccine is right for your medical situation.

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Iii2 People Capable Of Transmitting Influenza To Those At High Risk Of Influenza

People who are potentially capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk should receive annual vaccination, regardless of whether the high-risk individual has been vaccinated. Vaccination of HCWs decreases their own risk of illnessFootnote 52,Footnote 53, as well as the risk of death and other serious outcomes among the individuals for whom they provide careFootnote 54,Footnote 55,Footnote 56,Footnote 57. Vaccination of HCWs and residents of nursing homes is associated with decreased risk of ILI outbreaksFootnote 58.

People who are more likely to transmit influenza to those at high risk of influenza-related complications or hospitalization include:

  • HCWs and other care providers in facilities and community settings who, through their activities, are capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk and
  • Contacts, both adults and children, of individuals at high risk, whether or not the individual at high risk has been vaccinated.

Health care workers and other care providers in facilities and community settings

Vaccination of health care workers and other care providers
Outbreak management in health care facilities

Contacts of individuals at high risk of influenza complications

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