It’s flu shot time, seniors need expedited shots – Boston 25 News

Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don’t miss a flu shot this fall — seniors, ask for a special extra-strength shot.

After the flu hit an all-time low during the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be making a comeback. Main clue: A nasty flu season has just ended in Australia.

While it’s impossible to predict whether the U.S. will be hit so hard, “Last year we were entering flu season and didn’t know if the flu was there. This year we know the flu is back,” said Richard Webby, a St. Louis-based flu expert. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

A yearly flu shot is recommended starting at 6 months of age. The flu is most dangerous for people 65 and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health problems, including heart and lung disease.

Here’s what to know:

Upgrading Shooting for Seniors

As people age, their immune systems respond less strongly to the standard flu shot. This year, people 65 or older are urged to get a special protection for extra protection.

There are three options. Both Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok contain higher doses of the main anti-flu ingredient. Another option is Fluad Adjuvanted, which comes in regular doses but contains a special ingredient that helps boost people’s immune responses.

Seniors can ask their doctor what type they are carrying. But most flu shots are offered at pharmacies and some pharmacy websites like CVS, which automatically direct people to locations that offer advanced doses if their date of birth indicates they’re eligible.

Webby recommends making sure older relatives and friends are aware of the geriatric vaccine, in case they are not told when they seek it.

“They should at least ask, ‘Do you have a better shot of me?'” Webby said. For this age group, “the most important thing is that they do better”.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if the target dose of older adults in a location is insufficient, it may be better to get a standard flu shot rather than skip it.

All flu vaccines in the U.S. — including those for people under 65 — are “tetravalent,” meaning they protect against four different strains of the flu. Young people also have options, including an injection for those with egg allergies and a nasal spray called FluMist.

Why flu experts are wary

Australia has just experienced its worst flu season in five years, and what happens during the southern hemisphere winter often bodes well for what northern countries can expect, Dr. Andrew Pekosz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Masks and distancing precautions that also helped prevent the spread of other respiratory illnesses, like the flu, early in the pandemic have largely been abandoned.

“This poses a particular risk to young children who may not have had much exposure to the flu virus prior to this season,” Pekosz added.

“This year we’re going to have a real flu season like we’ve seen before the pandemic,” said Dr. Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis. louis.

He said the Children’s Hospital had seen unusual early spikes in other respiratory infections, including RSV or respiratory syncytial virus, and was concerned the flu would also strike earlier than usual – as happened in Australia.

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot at the end of October, but says it can be given any time during the flu season. Protection takes about two weeks.

The U.S. expects to have 173 million to 183 million doses of the vaccine this year. Yes, you can get the flu shot and the updated COVID-19 booster at the same time – one in each arm for pain relief.

Future Flu Vaccines

The companies that make two of the most widely used COVID-19 vaccines are now testing flu vaccines made using the same technology. One reason: When the flu mutates, so-called mRNA vaccine formulations may be updated faster than current flu vaccines, most of which are made by growing the flu virus in eggs.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are enrolling 25,000 healthy U.S. adults to receive either their experimental flu shot or the regular flu shot to see how effective the new approach is during flu season.

Rival Moderna has tested its version in about 6,000 people in Australia, Argentina and other countries during flu season in the southern hemisphere and is awaiting results.


The Associated Press Health and Science Division was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Division of Science Education. The Associated Press is solely responsible for all content.

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