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Seniors have several options this flu season

September 27, 2013

Flu season is rapidly approaching, and that means it's time for seniors to start thinking about getting their flu shot if they haven't already done so. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to complications due to the virus, and last year the senior living population was hit especially hard. Experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that adults 65 and older died from the flu at a rate of about 116 per 100,000, USA Today reported. This year, seniors have a number of options at their disposal when it comes to protecting themselves from the flu, and each offers its own unique form of protection.

New addition
This year saw a new offering to the list of flu shots - the quadrivalent vaccines. As its name suggests, this shot is meant to protect recipients from four different strains of the virus. It was added to the list in an effort to guard against the B-strain virus. Although the strain primarily affects kids, the shot is still available to people of all ages, The Wall Street Journal reported. The quadrivalent shot also offers protection against the three strains the traditional method targets. 

High dose for seniors
Given the threat the flu poses to the senior population, it should come as no surprise there is a shot designed specifically for older adults. Manufacturers speculate that it's about 24 percent more effective than the traditional shot for adults 65 and older thanks in large part to the higher dose of antigen, which helps spur the creation of antibodies and provides seniors with a better ability to fight off the virus. 

Start early
Flu season traditionally runs from October through May, with its peak during the winter months, but it's important for seniors to get their shots early, experts say. For one thing, shots are often in high demand, but by giving the shot a week or two to take full effect, seniors can ensure they're well-protected once flu season is in full swing.

"Ideally we'd like to be able to say to people, 'Get vaccinated a couple of weeks before the flu virus starts circulating in your community," Lisa Grohskopf, a medical officer at the National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, told the newspaper.