Arm Yourself Against the Flu
Most of us are so focused on coronavirus vaccines and boosters these days, we may have forgotten to get the flu shot. In case you haven’t heard, the flu shot is just as important now for protection than it was before the pandemic.
And for those who were concerned, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that it is perfectly safe to get the flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine.
Since the beginning of the year, positive flu test results and doctor’s office visits for flu-like illness are down.
But second waves of influenza are not unusual, and some health experts say it is possible that a late winter or spring surge could be coming.
COVID-19 cases have been falling in recent weeks, leading to a decline in mask wearing and behaviors that may have been keeping flu down this winter. As people become less cautious, flu or other respiratory viruses can surge, according to CDC officials.
Of all the age groups, the 65 and over crowd faces the greatest risk of developing serious complications from the flu. In fact, the CDC estimates that of all the people hospitalized each year with flu, up to 70% are seniors. Even more troubling is the fact that 70 to 85% of flu-related deaths typically occur among people 65 and older.
Two different flu shots – the Fluzone High Dose and FLUAD – are designed specifically for seniors. You only need one of them. They provide extra protection beyond what a standard flu shot provides. While they cannot guarantee you won’t get the flu, they will lower your risk.
Fluzone High Dose: Approved for U.S. use in 2009, this is a high-potency vaccine that contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot, which creates a stronger immune response for better protection. This vaccine, according to a 2013 clinical trial, was 24% more effective than the regular-dose shot at preventing flu in seniors.
FLUAD: Available in the U.S. since 2016, this vaccine contains an added ingredient called adjuvant MF59 that also helps create a stronger immune response. In a 2012 Canadian observational study, FLUAD was 63% more effective than a regular flu shot.
The CDC does not recommend one vaccination over the other, and to date, there have been no studies comparing them.
You should also know that both the Fluzone High-Dose and FLUAD can cause milder effects than occur with a standard-dose flu shot, like pain or tenderness where you got the shot, muscle aches, headache or fatigue. And neither vaccine is recommended for seniors who are allergic to chicken eggs, or those who have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past.
Both vaccines are also fully covered by KelseyCare Advantage.
The American Medical Association (AMA) has more information about the risks of COVID-19 and flu co-infection here: https://www.ama-assn.org/deliveringcare/public-health/questions-your-patients-may-havecovid-19-and-flu-coinfection