Mike Stobbe | Associated Press
NEW YORK. Americans aged 65 and older should get newer boosted flu vaccines because routine shots don’t provide enough protection, a federal advisory panel said Wednesday.
The panel unanimously recommended certain flu vaccines that may provide more or longer protection for older people whose weakened immune systems do not respond as well to traditional shots.
Options include: Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad with an immunostimulant, or Flublok, which is made from insect cells instead of eggs.
The group’s recommendations are generally accepted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and become government guidance for US physicians and their patients. This will be the first time that the government has given preference to the flu vaccine for the elderly.
US officials are now stating that all Americans 6 months of age and older should get the flu vaccine every season.
Flu shots tend to be less effective than other common shots, but they are often particularly frustrating for older people. Health officials say there is compelling research showing some of the newer shots work better in older people, especially for preventing flu-related hospitalizations. However, research is limited and there are few studies comparing the three new versions.
“These influenza vaccines are better, but they are not yet the sample we would like to have,” said team member Dr. Helen Cuypp Talbot of Vanderbilt University.
The new footage has taken root. About 80% of Medicare beneficiaries receive boosted vaccines each year, mostly high doses, officials say. The new versions can cost about three times as much as standard flu shots, but they are covered by insurance programs.
Members of the group said older people should get regular flu shots if newer ones are not available.
Also on Wednesday, CDC officials said the flu vaccine failed last winter, when most illnesses were caused by a strain of flu that vaccines traditionally offer little protection against. The vaccine was 35% more effective at preventing flu symptoms so severe they required a doctor’s visit. It was about 44% effective in children and lower in adults.