Should I Get the High-Dose Flu Vaccine?

Ask Well

People younger than 65 can receive the high-dose vaccine, but there are caveats.

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CreditCreditTed S. Warren/Associated Press

Q. If the high-dose flu vaccine is more potent, why do I have to wait until I’m 65 to get it?

A. People younger than 65 can receive the high-dose vaccine, but there are caveats.

Because older people have a weaker immune response to influenza vaccine than younger people do and are at increased risk for hospitalization and death from flu, the Food and Drug Administration approved a high-dose flu vaccine, called Fluzone High-Dose, in 2009, but only for those 65 and older.

Fluzone High-Dose contains four times as much immune-stimulating antigen as the standard-dose vaccine does. As a result, it produces significantly higher antibody levels in those who receive it.

In a rigorous post-licensure safety and efficacy study mandated by the F.D.A., Fluzone High-Dose was about 24 percent more effective than standard-dose vaccine in preventing influenza among older recipients. More important, it appears to reduce the serious cardiopulmonary complications of influenza, including pneumonia and worsening of heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the elderly.

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