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Advisory Panel Urges Older Americans To Get Stronger Flu Vaccines

A federal advisory panel said Wednesday that Americans 65 and older should get newer, stronger flu vaccines because regular shots don’t provide enough protection.

The panel unanimously recommended specific flu vaccines that may provide more or longer protection for seniors, whose weakened immune systems do not respond well to traditional shots.

Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad with an immune booster, and Flublok, which is made with insect cells rather than chicken eggs, are all options.

The panel’s recommendations are usually adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and become government policy for US doctors and patients. This would be the first time the government has stated a preference for flu vaccines for older adults.

Officials in the United States currently recommend that all Americans aged 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season.

Flu shots are less effective than other common vaccinations, but they are especially disappointing in seniors. According to health officials, there is compelling evidence that some of the new vaccines work better in older adults, particularly in preventing flu-related hospitalizations. However, studies are limited, and there is little research comparing the three new versions.

“These influenza vaccines are better, but they are not yet the home run that we would like to have,” said Vanderbilt University panelist Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot.

The new shots have become popular. According to officials, approximately 80% of Medicare beneficiaries receive the enhanced vaccines each year, with the majority receiving the high-dose version. The new versions can cost up to three times as much as traditional flu shots, but they are covered by insurance.

Members of the panel agreed that seniors should get flu shots regularly if the newer ones aren’t available.

Also on Wednesday, CDC officials reported that the flu vaccine didn’t work very well this winter when the majority of illnesses were caused by a flu strain that vaccines have historically done a poor job of protecting against. The flu vaccine was only 35% effective in preventing symptoms severe enough to necessitate a doctor’s visit. It was approximately 44% effective in children and lower in adults.

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A federal advisory panel said Wednesday that Americans 65 and older should get newer, stronger flu vaccines because regular shots don’t provide enough protection.

The panel unanimously recommended specific flu vaccines that may provide more or longer protection for seniors, whose weakened immune systems do not respond well to traditional shots.

Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad with an immune booster, and Flublok, which is made with insect cells rather than chicken eggs, are all options.

The panel’s recommendations are usually adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and become government policy for US doctors and patients. This would be the first time the government has stated a preference for flu vaccines for older adults.

Officials in the United States currently recommend that all Americans aged 6 months and older get a flu vaccine every season.

Flu shots are less effective than other common vaccinations, but they are especially disappointing in seniors. According to health officials, there is compelling evidence that some of the new vaccines work better in older adults, particularly in preventing flu-related hospitalizations. However, studies are limited, and there is little research comparing the three new versions.

“These influenza vaccines are better, but they are not yet the home run that we would like to have,” said Vanderbilt University panelist Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot.

The new shots have become popular. According to officials, approximately 80% of Medicare beneficiaries receive the enhanced vaccines each year, with the majority receiving the high-dose version. The new versions can cost up to three times as much as traditional flu shots, but they are covered by insurance.

Members of the panel agreed that seniors should get flu shots regularly if the newer ones aren’t available.

Also on Wednesday, CDC officials reported that the flu vaccine didn’t work very well this winter when the majority of illnesses were caused by a flu strain that vaccines have historically done a poor job of protecting against. The flu vaccine was only 35% effective in preventing symptoms severe enough to necessitate a doctor’s visit. It was approximately 44% effective in children and lower in adults.

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