Flu Shots for Seniors: Standard-Dose versus High-Dose

Flu season is looming and can start as early as October. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea while others may have respiratory symptoms without a fever. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age, especially people 65 years or older as they are more susceptible to the flu virus than younger adults.

People 65 years or older can choose to receive the standard-dose flu vaccine or a high-dose vaccine called Fluzone High-Dose. Fluzone High-Dose contains four times the amount of antigen — the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody — contained in regular flu shots. Since the human immune system becomes weaker with age, the additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in seniors. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in seniors than the standard-dose vaccine.

While the CDC strongly encourages seniors to get vaccinated, it does not endorse one dose over the other. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the risks and which dose is right for you.

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