It’s flu vaccine time and seniors need revved-up shots

Oct 2, 2022, 10:11 AM | Updated: Oct 3, 2022, 6:28 am
FILE - A man receives a flu shot in Brattleboro, Vt., on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. Doctors have a mes...

FILE - A man receives a flu shot in Brattleboro, Vt., on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don't skip your flu shot this fall 2022. And for the first time, seniors are urged to get a special extra-strength kind. (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP, File)

(Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP, File)

Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don’t skip your flu shot this fall — and seniors, ask for a special extra-strength kind.

After flu hit historically low levels during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be poised for a comeback. The main clue: A nasty flu season just ended in Australia.

While there’s no way to predict if the U.S. will be as hard-hit, “last year we were going into flu season not knowing if flu was around or not. This year we know flu is back,” said influenza specialist Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Annual flu shots are recommended starting with 6-month-old babies. Flu is most dangerous for people 65 and older, young children, pregnant women and people with certain health problems including heart and lung diseases.

Here’s what to know:

REVVED-UP SHOTS FOR SENIORS

As people get older, their immune system doesn’t respond as strongly to standard flu vaccination. This year, people 65 or older are urged to get a special kind for extra protection.

There are three choices. Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok each contain higher doses of the main anti-flu ingredient. The other option is Fluad Adjuvanted, which has a regular dosage but contains a special ingredient that helps boost people’s immune response.

Seniors can ask what kind their doctor carries. But most flu vaccinations are given in pharmacies and some drugstore websites, such as CVS, automatically direct people to locations offering senior doses if their birth date shows they qualify.

Webby advised making sure older relatives and friends know about the senior shots, in case they’re not told when they seek vaccination.

“They should at least ask, ‘Do you have the shots that are better for me?'” Webby said. “The bottom line is they do work better” for this age group.

If a location is out of senior-targeted doses, it’s better to get a standard flu shot than to skip vaccination, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All flu vaccines in the U.S. — including types for people younger than 65 — are “quadrivalent,” meaning they guard against four different flu strains. Younger people have choices, too, including shots for those with egg allergies and a nasal spray version called FluMist.

WHY FLU EXPERTS ARE ON ALERT

Australia just experienced its worst flu season in five years and what happens in Southern Hemisphere winters often foreshadows what Northern countries can expect, said Dr. Andrew Pekosz of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

And people have largely abandoned masking and distancing precautions that earlier in the pandemic also helped prevent the spread of other respiratory bugs like the flu.

“This poses a risk especially to young children who may not have had much if any previous exposure to influenza viruses prior to this season,” Pekosz added.

“This year we will have a true influenza season like we saw before the pandemic,” said Dr. Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.

He said children’s hospitals already are seeing an unusual early spike in other respiratory infections including RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, and worries flu likewise will strike earlier than usual — like it did in Australia.

The CDC advises a flu vaccine by the end of October but says they can be given any time during flu season. It takes about two weeks for protection to set in.

The U.S. expects 173 million to 183 million doses this year. And yes, you can get a flu shot and an updated COVID-19 booster at the same time — one in each arm to lessen soreness.

FLU SHOTS OF THE FUTURE

The companies that make the two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines now are testing flu shots made with the same technology. One reason: When influenza mutates, the recipes of so-called mRNA vaccines could be updated more quickly than today’s flu shots, most of which are made by growing influenza virus in chicken eggs.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are recruiting 25,000 healthy U.S. adults to receive either its experimental influenza shot or a regular kind, to see how effective the new approach proves this flu season.

Rival Moderna tested its version in about 6,000 people in Australia, Argentina and other countries during the Southern Hemisphere’s flu season and is awaiting results.

___

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

In this Nov. 23, 2022 photo, Igor shows the remains of marks on his back after allegedly being tort...
Associated Press

Torture allegations mount in aftermath of Kherson occupation

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — When a dozen Russian soldiers stormed into Dmytro Bilyi’s home in August, the 24-year-old police officer said they gave him a chilling choice: Hand in his pistol or his mother and brother would disappear. Bilyi turned his gun over to the soldiers, who carried machine guns and had their faces concealed. […]
24 hours ago
Protesters hold up blank white papers during a commemoration for victims of a recent Urumqi deadly ...
Associated Press

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. With police out in force, there was […]
24 hours ago
South Carolina Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, looks over a map during a House redistricting commit...
Associated Press

S. Carolina’s US House maps under scrutiny because of race

TO MOVE AT 1 AM EST TUESDAY. EDITED by LJAW; BACKREAD by JSC. A trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal closes Tuesday with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power by remaking the boundaries of the only U.S. House district Democrats have flipped in more than 30 years. […]
24 hours ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Missouri prepares to execute man for killing officer in 2005

FOR MOVEMENT TUESDAY AT 1 AM ET. EDITED BY CBLAKE. A Missouri inmate convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, though his lawyers are seeking to have the lethal injection halted. Kevin Johnson’s legal team doesn’t […]
24 hours ago
Lava pours out of the summit crater of Mauna Loa about 6:35 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, as seen fro...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What hazards are posed by Hawaii’s Mauna Loa?

HONOLULU (AP) — Lava is shooting 100 feet to 200 feet (30 to 60 meters) into the air as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupts for the first time in nearly 40 years. For now, lava is not threatening any homes or communities and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava could […]
24 hours ago
Associated Press

Monday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= Elma 81, Aberdeen 40 Fife 58, Chief Leschi 53 Lake Stevens 72, Marysville-Pilchuck 52 North Thurston 72, Foster 39 Stanwood 52, Kamiak 51 Sumner 86, Hazen 38 Tahoma 77, Mount Tahoma 58 Todd Beamer 69, Puyallup 61 ___ Some high school basketball scores provided by Scorestream.com, https://scorestream.com/ Copyright © The Associated Press. […]
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
It’s flu vaccine time and seniors need revved-up shots