Whether you choose mist or injection, high-dose or standard, get the flu vaccine

Flu in a hospitalized childThe flu can be deadly for seniors. It sends over 200,000 older adults to the hospital each year, and results in thousands of deaths. Well, now we have some numbers regarding how much more effective the Fluzone High-Dose influenza vaccine is compared to the standard vaccine.

Although the FDA approved the high-dose version four years ago when studies showed that it boosted the immune response needed to fight the flu in those who received the vaccine, it was not yet known whether it actually worked to prevent people from getting sick. Dr. H. Keipp Talbot, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, and colleagues conducted a study of 32,000 people over 65. Participants were randomly divided into two groups; one group received the high-dose vaccine and the other received the standard vaccine. Researchers found that the high-dose vaccine was 24 percent more effective than the standard dose. The CDC is still deciding whether to recommend the high-dose vaccine for seniors over the standard vaccine.

In other flu-related news, the CDC is now recommending that children ages 2 to 8 receive the vaccine in the form of a nasal spray. The reason behind this decision is that the influenza virus can change genetically and be slightly different, says Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical School. And it would appear as though the mist provides broader coverage against these altered strains. He says this is because the mist is made with a weakened form of the flu virus, as opposed to the shot which contains killed/inactivated influenza viruses.

The bottom line is this: Everyone over the age of six months should be vaccinated with some form of the flu vaccine. Pregnant women included.

As ACSH s Ariel Savransky has said before: There is no reason that you should not get the flu vaccine. Even though it is not 100 percent effective, there is really no downside to vaccination. Doctors and health professionals should urge patients to get the vaccine in order to prevent millions of serious illnesses and thousands of deaths this flu season.