During a severe flu season, a high-dose influenza vaccine appears to be significantly more effective than a standard-dose vaccine in preventing post-influenza deaths among older adults. These are the findings of a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The high-dose influenza vaccine was first approved in 2009 for adults 65 years of age and older as this population tends to run a higher risk of serious complications from flu. Compared to H1N1 or influenza B viruses, H3N2 viruses have been associated with increased mortality in this age group.
In order to compare the effectiveness of these flu vaccines on older patients, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age and older who received either the high-dose or standard-dose flu vaccines in community-located pharmacies. The primary outcome of the study was death in the 30 days after an inpatient or emergency department visit that included an influenza diagnosis.