Physician Explains Flu Shot Changes for People 65 and Older

Author: Erin Thomson

Everyone six months of age and older should get an influenza (flu) vaccine every season by the end of October, with rare exceptions, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

New for the 2022-2023 flu season, for people 65 years and older, there are three flu vaccines that are preferentially recommended over the standard-dose flu vaccines. These are Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine, and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. An adjuvant is an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the vaccine.

“These vaccines are preferred for people 65 years and older because a review of existing studies suggested that, in this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective than standard dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines,” said Meghana Swamy, MD, family medicine resident at McLaren Flint Family Medicine Residency Group Practice. “Flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications.”

According to the CDC, there are many benefits to receiving your flu vaccination. During seasons when flu vaccine viruses are similar to circulating flu viruses, the flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor for the flu by 40% to 60%.

Side effects of the flu vaccine are generally mild and go away on their own within a few days. Common side effects from the flu shot include soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site, headache, fever, nausea, and muscle aches. Use an ice pack or cool, damp cloth to help reduce redness, soreness, or swelling at the place where the shot was given. Drink liquids often for 1 to 2 days after getting the vaccine. Take an over-the-counter Tylenol for pain and fever unless you have any specific contraindication.

With any vaccine, look for any unusual conditions, such as a high fever, behavior changes, or signs of a severe allergic reaction after vaccination such as difficulty breathing, fast heartbeat, hives or dizziness. If you think it is a severe allergic reaction or other emergency that can’t wait, call 911. Otherwise, call your doctor for further instructions.

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