A high-dose flu vaccine has been shown to be effective at keeping seniors healthy, a study by the Oregon Health Authority says. The state public health agency collects data about flu hospitalizations every year. Researchers there tracked more than 144,000 Portland area residents 65 or older during last year's flu season.
They found that the older people who received the high dose of flu shot were 30 percent less likely to end up hospitalized. The high-dose shot is four times more powerful than the standard, because it contains more antigens that trigger an immune response to a virus. Seniors often have weaker immune systems and can be susceptible to the flu even with a standard vaccine.
Steve Robison, the lead author of the study and the epidemiologist in the Oregon Immunization Program, said seniors should get a flu vaccine that is tailored to boosting their immune response. High-dose vaccines are the best bet.
The study did not account for the adjuvanted vaccines – which contain an extra chemical to create a stronger reaction to the antigens. Robison said those are a better option than the standard flu shot. The study focused on people who received the flu shot before Dec. 11, 2016. Flu outbreaks become worst in mid-January, so this timeframe allowed the vaccinated people to develop antibodies to fight viruses.
Oregon is one of the few states that tracks flu hospitalizations, which made the study possible. This study took place during a bad flu season. All age groups were tracked by the federal government and had high numbers of people who visited clinics and emergency departments and were hospitalized. The length of time and geographical spread of these reports were unusually high.
Children died at the highest rate ever. From fall 2017 to spring 2018, 180 children died from the flu – the highest ever in the U.S. About 80 percent of the children who died did not receive a flu vaccine. For those that have received the vaccine, it will help reduce the need for medical attention by 40 percent.
The flu vaccine is covered by insurance and Medicare.
Drugstore vaccination programs tend to charge about $ 30 for a standard trivalent shot, and other types are slightly more expensive.