As the fall and winter months approach, flu season is also just around the corner. People who can get flu vaccines should do so to reduce their likelihood of getting the flu this year. People who are over the age of 65 are at a higher risk of suffering from serious illnesses when they contract the flu. Because of this risk, older adults should get a senior flu vaccine at a flu clinic in Monterey County or a flu clinic in Hollister that offers the quadrivalent high-dose flu vaccine. This vaccine has been specially formulated for seniors to give them additional protection against the flu.

What is a high dose flu vaccine?

A high-dose flu vaccine is a quadrivalent vaccine that contains deactivated influenza particles. It contains four ingredients and is approved to be used for people who are ages 65 or older. This vaccine is different from the regular quadrivalent flu vaccines that are given to people who are between the ages of two and 65. While both contain four ingredients, the high dose flu vaccine contains a greater amount of antigens than the standard quadrivalent flu vaccines. Antigens are proteins that help to prime your immune system so that your body will be better able to protect you from the flu virus. This helps to provide older adults with an improved immune response so that they will be better protected from the influenza virus.

Who can get the high-dose flu vaccine?

The senior flu vaccine is only licensed in the U.S. for people who are ages 65 and older. If you have a history of having severe allergic reactions to vaccines or certain vaccine ingredients, this vaccine is not recommended for you. You can review the vaccine’s ingredients on the manufacturer’s package inserts or ask about them when you go to a flu clinic in Hollister or a flu clinic in Monterey County.

Benefits of the high-dose quadrivalent vaccine vs. a standard flu vaccine

Researchers have compared standard trivalent flu vaccines with high-dose trivalent flu vaccines in people ages 65 and older. They found that older adults who received the high dose flu vaccine had stronger immune responses as compared to those who received the standard flu vaccine.

In a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers found that a high-dose vaccine showed 24% greater effectiveness for preventing the flu in older adults than a standard flu vaccine. Other researchers have found that older adults who were given the high-dose vaccines had a lower rate of hospital admissions. This was especially true among older adults who lived in long-term care facilities. This study was conducted with more than 38,000 residents of long-term care facilities in 38 states in the 2013 to 2014 flu season. During the 2020 to 2021 flu season, the trivalent high-dose full vaccine has been replaced by the high-dose quadrivalent flu vaccine in anticipation of the strains of influenza that are likely to be prevalent this year.

How does the quadrivalent high-dose vaccine differ from an adjuvanted flu vaccine?

Researchers who studied the effectiveness of the senior flu vaccine versus standard adjuvanted flu vaccines for people ages 65 and older who were on Medicare found that the high-dose vaccines offered greater protection against hospitalizations caused by the flu than egg-based vaccines during the 2017 to 2018 and the 2018 to 2019 flu seasons. While people have several flu vaccines to choose from, everyone older than six months needs to receive a vaccination against the flu each year. Talk to your health care professional to learn which type of vaccine might be the best choice for you.

Safety of the quadrivalent high-dose flu vaccine

In clinical studies, people who received trivalent high-dose vaccines were likelier to experience certain side effects than those who received standard-dose flu vaccines. Some of the common types of side effects that people experienced include the following:

  • Mild pain
  • Redness around the injection site
  • Muscular aches
  • General feeling of malaise
  • Headaches

A majority of people who took the trivalent high-dose vaccine either suffered no side effects or experienced very minimal side effects. A study that compared the high-dose quadrivalent vaccine to the trivalent version found that people who received the quadrivalent high-dose vaccine were slightly likelier to experience side effects. However, most people who experienced side effects reported mild symptoms that resolved in a few days.

Why older adults need a flu vaccine that is designed for seniors

As people age, their immune systems gradually become weaker. This means that your immune response may not be as strong when you are older than age 65 than it was when you were younger. People who are ages 65 or older have the greatest risk of dying from the flu and have a reduced immune response to standard flu vaccines as compared to younger people. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers have found that people who are 65 or older account for 50% to 70% of hospitalizations from the flu and for 70% to 85% of deaths associated with the flu every flu season.

After receiving flu vaccines, seniors demonstrate lowered immune response to the vaccines as compared to younger people. A lowered immune response might mean that a standard vaccine will be less effective for an older adult than it would be for someone younger. Because of the higher risk that people over the age of 65 have for suffering serious illnesses when they contract the flu and their lowered immune responses to standard flu vaccines, newer high-dose vaccines may be a good idea for older adults.

Where to get a high-dose flu vaccine

Seniors who are ages 65 or older can talk to their health care professionals about getting the high-dose quadrivalent flu vaccine. One option for seniors in Monterey County, the Central Coast, or Hollister is one of the flu clinics offered by CCVNA. No matter where you go, the most important thing to keep in mind is that getting a flu vaccine this year can help to reduce your risk of getting the flu and can help to make the illness milder if you do contract the flu this year.