Finally some flu vaccine answers

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fluLast year s flu season raised more controversy than usual about the use and utility of the flu vaccine. The degree of protection (about 60%) was on the low side, leading many to question whether it was even worth being vaccinated. A related question that arose was whether more is better. In other words, if one dose gives moderate protection, would doubling the dose provide more? What about a fourfold increased dose?

This question has now been at least partially answered, and it seems that indeed, more is better at least for seniors, the participants in the trial conducted by Sanofi, one of the major vaccine companies.

Although Fluzone High-Dose (Sanofi s flu shot with four times the amount of influenza antigen than their regular vaccine) was approved by the FDA in 2009, based on safety and an increased immune response, it was not known whether this translated into greater protection.

David P. Greenberg, M.D., Vice President, U.S. Scientific and Medical Affairs at Sanofi Pasteur said, "We are pleased that this study demonstrates the superior relative efficacy of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine compared to Fluzone [Sanofi s brand name] vaccine in preventing influenza in older adults.

The study showed that Fluzone High-Dose vaccine was about 24 percent more effective in preventing the flu in adults who were 65 or older than the lower dose Fluzone vaccine. This large, multi-year trial also reaffirmed the safety of Fluzone High-Dose vaccine as demonstrated in previous studies.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom says, This study is timely and important. Given the inherent suboptimal protection for seniors, coupled with the uncertainty about whether they would actually benefit from a second dose of vaccine, this provides some badly needed guidance for the upcoming flu season.

He continues, Since the beginning of this year s flu season is around the corner, expect to be nagged by us (as usual) to get your shot. This is your first nag. And it s not even Labor Day.