Is the new high dose flu vaccine safe?
It has been known for many years that the population 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu when compared with younger, healthy adults. According to the CDC, It is estimated that over 85 percent of flu-related deaths and more than 50 percent of hospitalizations from the flu in the United States each year occur in individuals 65 years and older. This is thought to be because this population may have weaker immune defenses. Before you jump on the band wagon however, know that the latest push is for baby boomers to get a newer and more powerful version of the flu shot.
There are several flu vaccine options for the 2013-2014flu season. Some of these are updated from older versions while some are brand new.
Trivalent flu vaccines are made to protect against three different flu viruses. In addition, this season flu quadrivalent vaccines made to protect against four different flu viruses also are available.
The following trivalent flu vaccines are available:
• Standard dose trivalent injections that are manufactured and grown in eggs. These are approved for people ages 6 months and older.
• A standard dose trivalent shot that is egg free, approved for people 18 through 49 years of age. This one is made using insects instead of eggs.
• A high-dose trivalent shot, approved for people 65 and older.
• A standard dose intradermal trivalent shot, which is injected into the skin instead of the muscle and uses a much smaller needle than the regular flu shot, approved for people 18 through 64 years of age.
The following quadrivalent flu vaccines are available:
• A standard dose quadrivalent shot
• A standard dose quadrivalent flu vaccine, administered as a nasal spray, approved for healthy individuals aged 2 through 49 years of age
Fluzone High-Dose is approved for use in persons 65 years of age and older. It is indicated for immunization against influenza disease caused by both influenza virus subtypes A and type B. Approval of Fluzone High-Dose is based on the assumption of a superior immune response. Due to it being a new formula, data demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with Fluzone High-Dose is not yet available.
According to the vaccine manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur Inc., there is data available indicating that the higher dose formula also has an increased level of adverse reactions. Within 6 months post-vaccination, 6.1% Fluzone High-Dose recipients and 7.4% Fluzone recipients experienced a serious adverse event. No deaths were reported within 28 days 15 post vaccination; however a total of 23 deaths were reported during the period Day 29–180 post vaccination.
Adverse reactions reported during post approval use of Fluzone included:
• Thrombocytopenia, lymphadenopathy
• Anaphylaxis and other allergic and hypersensitivity reactions (including life threatening angioedema)
• Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), convulsions, facial palsy 19, optic neuritis, fainting, dizziness, paresthesia
• Dyspnea (difficulty breathing), pharyngitis, rhinitis, cough, wheezing
• Stevens-Johnson syndrome
Take home information: Know what the risks of any vaccination plan are first and discuss any concerns you have with your healthcare provider.
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