Is the Regular Flu Shot Enough for You?
The flu is coming! Wherever you plan to spend the winter months, you can’t escape exposure to the influenza virus. It’s time to think about how you’re going to prepare for flu season so you can stay healthy. These are the things to know before deciding which vaccine to choose.
The flu can hit hard as we age.
Due to a phenomenon called immunosenescence, our immune systems weaken as we age. This means that older adults have lower responses to infections, greater susceptibility to the flu, and are at high risk for complications or hospitalization. Many of us are already dealing with ongoing health problems. In fact, 74% of adults 65+ live with at least one chronic condition.
The flu is not a bad cold and can be pretty serious.
Adults aged 65 and older are more likely to have serious complications from the flu. In the 2016-2017 flu season, for example, seniors accounted for 68% of hospitalizations and 88% of all deaths. The flu can worsen chronic health conditions like diabetes and hypertension, and can trigger strokes and heart attacks.
Seniors are less responsive to the regular influenza vaccine.
Influenza vaccination is recommended each fall for all adults, especially for those aged aged 65 and older. But did you know that the regular flu vaccine is approximately 50% less effective in those over 65 than in younger healthy adults? Coupled with the additional risk seniors face when chronic conditions are present, this leaves us more vulnerable to the illness.
There’s a high-dose flu vaccine specifically for seniors.
A high-dose influenza vaccine formulated for adults 65+ has been available since 2016 in Canada. The higher dose flu vaccine contains four times the amount of antigens compared to a standard dose vaccine, and has been shown to be 24% more effective in protecting seniors from seasonal influenza. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommends the higher dose vaccine for providing older adults with superior protection compared with the standard dose flu shot. Approximately 70 million doses have been distributed in the United States since 2009.
Learn more about the flu in older adults.
Talk to your healthcare provider about the benefits of the high-dose flu vaccine or visit fluhd.ca.