Frail Elderly Might Benefit From High-Dose Flu Shot

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Dec. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A high-dose influenza vaccine is better than the standard vaccine for frail seniors under care in nursing homes, a new study suggests.

Researchers report that the high-dose shot produces a stronger immune response in this elderly population, a potential sign it will keep more cases of flu at bay.

"For frail older adults, the high-dose vaccine appears to be a better option to protect against flu than the standard dose," said study leader Dr. David Nace, of the University of Pittsburgh. "Even in the frail, long-term care population, the high-dose flu vaccine looks like it produces a greater antibody response than the standard dose vaccine."

About nine out of every 10 flu-related deaths in the United States are among people aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People aged 85 and older in long-term care communities are at high risk of developing flu, and their immune systems may be less responsive to vaccines, the researchers say.

In the new study, researchers compared the high-dose and standard vaccines in 187 frail older adults with an average age of 87.

The high-dose vaccine prompted a modest but stronger improvement in the immune response to all but one flu strain at 30 and 180 days after vaccination.

The study, published Dec. 18 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, was funded in part by Sanofi Pasteur.

In an accompanying commentary, two CDC researchers said it's crucial to vaccinate elderly nursing home residents and health care workers.

More information

For more about the flu, see the U.S. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.