New Flu Vaccine Option for Adults 65 Years and Older

(July 26, 2010)

Influenza can have severe consequences for the elderly, including hospitalization and death.

Adults 65 years of age and older are among the groups hardest hit by influenza, and annual vaccination remains the best protection, particularly for this population. However, as people age, their immune function tends to decrease, which makes older adults not only more susceptible to infections, but also less responsive to vaccination.

Although this group has the highest rates of annual immunization, they may not respond to standard-dose influenza vaccine as well as younger adults.1 On average in the US it is estimated that 90% of the 36,000 annual deaths attributed to influenza and its complications are in people 65 years of age and older.2

In December 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed Fluzone High-Dose vaccine, which is designed to help generate a stronger immune response in people 65 years of age and older.

The new 2010-2011 annual influenza vaccination recommendations issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have included Fluzone High-Dose vaccine among the vaccines recommended for adults 65 years of age and older. Fluzone High-Dose vaccine is also a payable benefit under Medicare Part B.

Fluzone High-Dose vaccine provides an additional option for adults 65 years of age and older to help combat the burden of influenza. The American Lung Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider to learn more and determine which flu vaccination option is best for you and your loved ones. Although there is special concern for the elderly, remember that the CDC now recommends that everyone over six months of age get immunized against the flu.

1. Monto AS, Ansaldi F, Aspinall R, et al. Influenza control in the 21st century: optimizing protection of older adults. Vaccine. 2009;27:5043

2. Poland GA, Mulligan MJ. The imperative of influenza vaccines for elderly individuals – an evolving story. J Infect Dis. 2009:200:61-163.