High-dose flu vaccine better for the elderly, study shows

For elderly people in long-term care facilities, the high-dose flu vaccine is better at boosting their immune response to the flu, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study.

Researchers followed 187 people living in 15 community-based long-term care sites during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 flu seasons. Only people who needed full or partial assistance in at least one daily self-care activity were included in the study. The participants were randomly chosen to receive a high-dose or standard flu shot and were then tested for their antibody response 30 and 180 days after.

At both test points, the immune response was higher for high-dose recipients compared to standard vaccine recipients for all flu strains in both seasons, except for one flu strain in the 2012-13 season.

Long-term care residents are the most vulnerable to flu-related deaths, according to the study.

"Historically, the protection from regular influenza vaccine among seniors has been moderate," said senior author Richard K. Zimmerman, MD, PhD, professor in Pitt's department of family medicine. "Now an option with better immunologic protection is available, as our study shows."

The study was funded by the vaccine-maker, Sanofi Pasteur.

More articles on the flu:
Flu outbreaks cause US hospitals to restrict visiting hours
Flu shots prevented 7.2M illnesses last year
Patient safety tool: AHA, AMA, APIC flu resources

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