High-Dose Flu Vaccine Hits Market

A new flu vaccine for senior citizens is available for the first time. The injection is four times stronger than the regular flu dose for the general population. Laurie Johnson reports.

The high-dose flu vaccine is tailored specifically for people over the age of 65.

Dr. Melanie Mouzoon oversees immunizations for Kelsey-Seybold clinic. She says senior citizens are much more susceptible to the flu.

"People over the age of 65, particularly those over the age of 85, do not mount as good of an immune response to the regular flu vaccine as we would like. So for example, a younger person, a healthy person stands about an 80 percent chance of becoming immune from one dose of the flu vaccine but an older person may only stand about a 50 percent chance of immunity in the same season."

The injection, known as Fluzone High Dose on the market, is four times more concentrated than the regular flu shot.

While it's available to everyone in the senior population, Mouzoon says she especially recommends it for senior citizens who have other health problems that may weaken their immune systems.

"I think it's a great innovation, really. It is a little more likely to make your arm sore or to have you develop a little bit of low-grade fever from getting this vaccine because it is more concentrated or a stronger dose of the vaccine. But really the older individuals in our population comprise about 15 percent of the population, but about 90 percent of the deaths from influenza."

This flu season is the first time the high-dose shot is available on the market.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...