Flu shots for seniors available in April
Influenza affects people of all ages, but infections among the elderly are more likely to require hospitalisation and cause serious complications such as pneumonia and heart attacks.
Of the 1,100 deaths from influenza related conditions recorded in Australia last year, 90% were aged 65 and over.
Recent studies have shown that traditional flu vaccines don’t protect the elderly very well against flu and its complications, as older persons immune systems don’t respond as well to vaccines.
That is why this year people aged 65 years and older are being provided with one of two free new enhanced vaccines: A high-dose version with four times the dose and an adjuvanted version with an additional ingredient to boost its effectiveness.
Compared to the standard flu vaccine, both vaccines have been shown to better stimulate the immune system of older people to make protective antibodies. These vaccines are only available for use in people 65 years of age or older and are not available on the private market.
It is important to understand that all influenza vaccines available in Australia have been updated to match the circulating virus strains in the Southern Hemisphere and should give better protection than last year to most people, but they are not the vaccine of choice for people aged 65 and over.
The Immunisation Coalition is concerned that some ads currently appearing in the media might be confusing and urge older people to wait for the enhanced vaccines from their GP.
Australia’s National Immunisation Program provides free influenza vaccine for the elderly, as well as other high-risk groups including pregnant women, those with chronic diseases and Indigenous Australians.
The Immunisation Coalition recommends for everyone older than 6 months to get vaccinated. “If you are young fit and healthy having a flu shot will not only protect yourself but people around you – babies, immune compromised people and the elderly.
“Vulnerable people need protection from herd immunity,” explaines Paul Van Buynder, Chairman of the Immunisation Coalition.
1 March 2018.