With so much of our nation’s focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be easy to forget the importance of protecting ourselves and residents against the yearly threat of influenza. Older adults, especially those living in long-term healthcare settings, are vulnerable to flu infections and potentially deadly complications.
To protect against flu and its complications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most people 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. This recommendation includes people with egg allergies. However, the vaccine is not recommended for people with severe, life-threatening allergies to other ingredients in a flu vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics or other ingredients. It is also not recommended for people who have had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of any influenza vaccine. These individuals might not be able to receive other influenza vaccines.
According to the CDC, September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated and ideally, everyone should be vaccinated before the end of October. The agency also warns, “While flu activity may be low in your community now, it could begin increasing at any time. Remember, after you are vaccinated, your body takes about two weeks to develop antibodies that protect against flu. Ideally, you should get vaccinated against flu by the end of October.”
Flu vaccine options for older adults
The COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine can be administered at the same time, according to the CDC. Several flu vaccine formulations are approved for use in people 65 and older this season, including two “enhanced” flu vaccines: the high-dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine, both of which are designed to create a stronger immune response in people 65 years and older. It’s important to note that the CDC does not have a preferential recommendation for any flu vaccine over another, and vaccination should not be delayed for a specific vaccine when another vaccine licensed for use in people 56 and older is available.
High-Dose Flu Vaccine: This vaccine contains four times the amount of influenza antigen as a regular flu shot. It is supposed to result in a better immune response for older people. In clinical studies, the high-dose vaccine was found to be more effective than standard dose vaccines in preventing the flu for seniors and lowered the risk of complications. This type of vaccine has been approved for use in the United States since 2009.
Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine: The adjuvanted flu vaccine is made with an additive that creates a stronger immune response to flu vaccination. A Canadian study of 282 people 65 and older found that it was 63 percent more effective than regular dose flu shots without the additive. This vaccine has been approved in the U.S. since 2020.
The high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may result in more of the mild side effects that can occur with standard-dose seasonal shots, such as pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache and malaise. If you would like to know more about how Turenne PharMedCo Pharmacy can help you protect your residents, contact us at 1-866-710-7626.