Each year in the United States about nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and more than six out of 10 flu-related hospital stays occur in people over the age of 65. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long recommended that older adults receive an annual influenza immunization as the best way to help prevent the flu. Sadly, the CDC says immunization rates are still far below public health goals.
As we age, our immune system is less able to fight off infections and other diseases. As the immune system weakens, fewer antibodies are produced following a vaccination to help protect the body against infection. Antibodies are the soldiers of the immune system helping to respond and protect against infection when exposed to the virus. That’s why there is a new type of flu shot.
The traditional dose can be taken by anyone, while the higher dose flu (Fluzone High-Dose) vaccine designed specifically for the elderly population to address the age-related decline of the immune system. It contains four-times the amount of antigen — the part of the vaccine that stimulates your immune system to fight the flu — than is found in the traditional dose.
According the The John Hopkins White Papers medical journal, research has shown that the high-dose version is better at inducing immune responses. Unfortunately, getting a flu shot doesn’t necessarily prevent the elderly from getting the flu. But it does help mitigate the symptoms, and helps bolster the immune system to fight off the disease.
The CDC doesn’t recommend one shot over another at this time. However, many doctors believe that the high dose is a good idea for patients with lung disease, diabetes, COPD or heart disease who are at higher risk from the flu.
Happily, Medicare Part B covers all influenza vaccine options recommended for seniors with no copay, including the higher dose option.
The most important point is, whether you get the traditional or high dose, get vaccinated!
Angels for Life is happy to take our elderly patients for all types of immunizing shots, but most especially for flu shots!