Flu Shots

Fact Sheet on the new Fluzone High Dose Flu Vaccine made especially for Seniors over 65
Prepared by Vivian J. Woodard, M.D.     
Emmanuel Christian Health Center
918 Rolling Acres Rd. Suite 1 & 2, Lady Lake, Fl 32159 
Phone: (352) 259-1991 or (352) 430-0262

(Most of this information was obtained from the Centers for Disease Control website as posted on 8/12/2010 and can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_fluzone.htm. I have adapted it slightly for easier reading. I have also added my own personal recommendations regarding who should take this new vaccine.)

What is Fluzone High-Dose Flu Vaccine?
Fluzone High-Dose is a new flu vaccine, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur Inc., designed specifically for people 65 years and older. It is given as a single 0.5 ml shot like other flu vaccines, and is available only in pre-filled syringes.

What is the difference between regular flu vaccines and the new Fluzone High-Dose seasonal flu vaccine?
The regular seasonal flu shots and Fluzone High-Dose are both injectable flu vaccines, made up of the 3 flu strains thought most likely to cause illness for this particular flu season. Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains 4 times the amount of antigen contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibodies) in the person getting the vaccine.

Why is a higher dose vaccine available for adults 65 and older?
Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which places older people at greater risk of severe illness from flu. Also, ageing decreases the body’s ability to have a good immune response after getting flu vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is supposed to give older people a better immune response and therefore better protection against flu.   

Does the higher dose vaccine produce a better immune response in adults 65 years and older?
Data from clinical trials comparing regular flu vaccine (Fluzone) to Fluzone High-Dose among persons aged 65 years or older indicate that a stronger immune response (i.e. higher antibody levels) occurs after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose. Whether or not the improved immune response leads to greater protection against flu disease after vaccination is not yet known. An ongoing study designed to determine the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose in preventing illness from flu compared to Fluzone is expected to be completed in 2012.

Is Fluzone High-Dose safe?
The safety profile of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is similar to that of regular flu vaccines, although adverse events (which are also reported after regular flu vaccines) were reported more frequently after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose. The most common adverse events experienced during clinical studies were mild and temporary and included pain, redness and swelling at the injection site and headache, muscle aches, fever and malaise. Most people had minimal or no adverse events after receiving the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine.

Who can get this vaccine?
Fluzone High-Dose is approved for use in people 65 years of age and older. As with all flu vaccines, Fluzone
High-Dose is not recommended for people with a severe allergy to chicken eggs, or people who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.

“Dr. Woodard do you recommend the regular or the high dose flu vaccine for your patients 65 and older?”
Although the CDC is not expressing a preference for regular vaccine versus high dose at this time, I do recommend the new higher dose vaccine for my patients over 65 who want stronger protection against seasonal flu. However, if you have already had a regular flu shot this flu season I do not advise you to take an additional High Dose flu shot. Because minor reactions such as sore arm and low-grade fever are more common with the High Dose Vaccine I would also not recommend it for anyone who has bad reactions to the regular dose flu shot in the past.

Is this new vaccine covered by Medicare?
Yes. Medicare part B will cover one flu shot of your choice per flu season--either a regular dose flu shot or a High Dose flu shot.

918 Rolling Acres Road, Suite One, Lady Lake, Florida 32159
Phone: 352-259-1991 | Fax: 352-259-5540 | Email

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