Every Fall, I try to wait as long as possible before giving in and turning on our home’s heating system. For me, that moment when I flip the switch represents the true beginning of the end of barbecues, outdoor adventures and summer fun as we progress to the colder days of the fall season. But while cold weather is an annual reality I try as long as possible to ignore, one thing I never ignore is the inevitable flu season none of us can avoid.
Now, before I continue, I would be remiss if I didn’t stress that I am not a doctor, nor do I have any medical training. Before making medical decisions for yourself or your loved ones, please always seek the guidance of your personal physician.
Flu Season and You
According to CDC data, it’s estimated that between 70-85% of seasonal flu related deaths have occurred in people ages 65 years and older. As well, between 50-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.1
The CDC therefore recommends that people 65 years and older get a flu shot—not the nasal spray vaccine. Of course, your healthcare provider will recommend the vaccine right for you.
To help aid in conversations with your doctor, you should note that there are two types of vaccines designated specifically for older adults:
- High Dose Flu Vaccine (Brand name: Fluzone High-Dose): This vaccine is designed for people 65 and older and contains four times the amount of antigen as the standard flu shot. According to the CDC, this shot is associated with a stronger immune response following the vaccination. Results from a clinical trial showed that those who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections compared to those who received the standard vaccine.
- Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine (Brand name: Fluad): This vaccine is made with MF59 adjuvant, an additive that can create a stronger immune response to vaccination, and was first available in the United States during the 2016-2017 flu season. According to the CDC, in a review of multiple vaccine trials, older adults who received the MF59-adjuvanted vaccine had a significantly higher immune response than those who received a standard flu vaccine.
For more information on the flu season among the senior population, please reference the CDC’s website for an informative fact sheet. The CDC also has a Flu website that includes helpful tools such as VaccineFinder, which will help you locate a flu vaccine provider near you.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made conversations around healthcare critical in every household. Do your research on the flu vaccine, ask your healthcare provider informed questions, and take actions to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter. Stay safe this fall season, and if you’re interested in learning more about in-home care, you can contact us here.