Flu Vaccines; Safe For those 65+ years old?

Elderly Flu Update

Our elderly patients bear the largest burden of flu disease.  Recent estimates show that 80-90% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and 50-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations are in patients 65 years and older.4

Options for The Elderly

Regular dose flu vaccine (Inactivated)

High dose vaccine specifically for patients 65 and older (Inactivated)

djuvanted Flu Vaccine (Fluad®)

The question that has been posed is: “Does the vaccine truly help the elderly?” There are no clinical trials evaluating the effects of the vaccine on the elderly due to ethical issues. Clinical Equipoise, states that scientists can’t test, in a randomized controlled trial, a treatment that the greater population of the medical community considers to be effective, because it would involve denying treatment to patients, potentially putting them in harm’s way.

There is also the term Immune Senescence, when describing the elderly and vaccine administration.  This is the thought that the elderly immune system weakens with age and te response to the vaccine is diminished, especially when using inactivated vaccine.2 The inactivated vaccine is the only flue vaccine FDA approved for the elderly.  The live vaccine is not approved in patients over the age of 49 years of age.