Last year’s flu season was moderately severe but lasted a record-breaking 21 weeks. And while the timing of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity often begins to increase in October, most commonly peaks between December and February, but can last as late as May. CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
What’s new this flu season?
- Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating flu viruses
- Any licensed, age-appropriate flu vaccines are recommended
- The nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) is again a vaccine option.
During most influenza seasons, adults 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe influenza disease. In fact, it is estimated that between 70-85% of influenza -related deaths and 50-70% of influenza related hospitalizations occur among people in this age group.
Health care professionals caring for older adults have an important role in ensuring their patients know they are at high risk of influenza complications and receive an influenza vaccine every year. Talk to your patients about influenza and what influenza vaccines are available for them this season.
There are several influenza vaccines available for people 65 years and older, including:
- The “high dose” influenza vaccine (Fluzone High Dose®) contains 4 times the amount of antigen as regular influenza It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination.
- The adjuvant vaccine (Fluad®) is a standard dose influenza vaccine with an added adjuvant. An adjuvant is an ingredient added to a vaccine to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination.
More information about available influenza vaccines for this season can be found here.