Seniors asked to get more powerful flu shots this year

This year, anyone 65 or older is encouraged to get a special flu vaccine for extra protection.

Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don’t skip your flu shot this fall — and seniors, ask for a special booster.

After the flu hits a historic low during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be poised for a comeback. Key Clue: A nasty flu season just ended in Australia.

While there is no way to predict whether the United States will be hit hard, “last year, we entered flu season without knowing if a flu outbreak would emerge. This year, we know that the flu is back,” said flu expert Richard Webby of St. Jude of Memphis said.

An annual flu shot is recommended starting at 6 months of age. The flu is most dangerous for people 65 and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health problems including heart and lung disease.


As people get older, their immune systems don’t respond as strongly to regular flu shots. This year, people 65 and older are encouraged to purchase a special category for extra protection.

There are three choices. Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok each contain the main flu-fighting ingredient in higher doses. Another option is Fluad Adjuvanted, which has the usual dosage but contains a special ingredient that enhances the human immune response.

Seniors can ask what their doctor brings. But most flu vaccines are given at pharmacies, and some pharmacy websites, such as CVS, automatically direct people to locations that provide high doses if their date of birth indicates they are adequate. standard.

Webby recommends making sure older relatives and friends know about the shots in case they weren’t told when to go for them.

“They should at least ask, ‘Do you have any better photos of me?’” Webby says. “The bottom line is they work better” for this age group.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a site no longer has a highly targeted dose, it is better to get the standard flu shot than to skip the vaccination.

All flu vaccines in the United States – including those for people under age 65 – are “quadvalent,” which means they protect against four different strains of flu. Young people also have options, including shots for those with egg allergies and a nasal spray version called FluMist.


Dr Andrew Pekosz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said Australia had just experienced its worst flu season in five years and what happens in the southern hemisphere winter often foreshadows what the northern countries have. can expect.

And people have largely abandoned the mask and distancing precautions that earlier in the pandemic also helped prevent the spread of other respiratory bugs like the flu.

Pekosz added: “This poses a particular risk to young children, who may not have been exposed to the flu virus much before this season.

Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St.

He said children’s hospitals have been seeing an unusually early rise in other respiratory infections including RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, and similar flu concerns. will happen sooner than usual – like in Australia.

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot in late October but says it can be given at any time during flu season. It takes about two weeks for protection to be established.

The US expects between 173 million and 183 million doses this year. And yes, you can get a flu shot and an up-to-date COVID-19 booster at the same time – one shot in each arm to reduce soreness.


The companies that make the two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines are now testing flu shots made with the same technology. One reason: When the flu mutates, the formulation of so-called mRNA vaccines can be updated more quickly than today’s flu vaccines, which are mostly made by evolving viruses. flu in chicken eggs.

Pfizer and partner BioNTech are recruiting 25,000 healthy American adults for either an experimental or routine flu shot, to see how the new approach has proven effective this flu season.

Rival Moderna tested its version in about 6,000 people in Australia, Argentina and other countries during flu season in the Southern Hemisphere and is awaiting results. Seniors asked to get more powerful flu shots this year

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