Health knowledge and news provided by doctors.

Is the new high dose flu vaccine safe?

Tracy Woolrich's picture
Flu vaccine

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

Follow eMaxHealth on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Please, click to subscribe to our Youtube Channel to be notified about upcoming health and food tips.

• 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.

Sources: CDC, FDA, American Lung Association



Many parents think vaccines are not safe and have bad side effects. What is this based on? Is there a legitimate source for this concern?
I believe it a personal decision between the patient (or parent ) and the doctor. Not all vaccinations are made the same. Some have a higher level of preservatives or mercury than others. Some individuals have allergies to some of the ingredients such as eggs or in some instances antibiotics. It is worth doing your own research and discuss your concerns with a healthcare professional.
Angie - not sure what you are asking. If you are asking if parents should legitimately be concerned, then the answer is yes - about any vaccine, medication, food allergy, their child being bullied at school, walking into the street, getting into a car, breathing bad air from pollution, having emergency surgery, getting ear tubes to save their hearing and getting diseases like meningitis or other from not being vaccinated, chemical exposure and so many things. Nothing is 100% safe, but there is no proof that vaccines are harmful - all of the anti-vaccine comments you see on the internet are hyped up, and safety is based on best evidence that we have today.
I had never had a serious reaction to flu vaccine before I had High Dose Fluzone. I was extremely & frighteningly ill the evening and day after the injection. I had severe head & body aches, racking chills & shaking, heavy nasal & throat congestion, a fever close to 101 & the whites of my eyes became completely red - not just bloodshot. Three days later I still have eye irritation, aches and minor gastro symptoms. I may be a fairly rare exception, but I will NEVER have High Dose Fluzone again and would not recommend it to anyone.
Hi Dara: According to information that I can find, the flu vaccine really doesn't "kick in" for two weeks. It takes that long to make antibodies. When people get sick after taking the vaccine, the suspicion is they were already exposed to the flu. Regardless, I'm sorry you went through that.