High dose influenza shots more effective in older people

New York, Oct 12 (IANS) Flu immunisations with four times the strength of standard flu shots significantly reduces the risk hospitalisation of the elderly during the influenza season, new research has found.

The study involved more than 50,000 participants 65-years old and older from 823 nursing homes in 38 US states, making it the largest nursing home study to date, the researchers said.

The group that received the high dose vaccine had a 19.7 percent hospital admission rate versus 20.9 percent in admission for those who received the standard dose vaccine, the findings showed.

“If given to all approximately 1.5 million nursing home residents, a one percent drop in hospitalisations would translate to thousands fewer being hospitalised,” explained lead author of the study Stefan Gravenstein from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Ohio, US.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of hospitalisation is one in five during the flu season.

The residents were given influenza shots to help protect them from influenza during the period of November 2013 to March 2014.

“Flu in a nursing home population is a major cause of hospitalizations. In addition to pneumonia, flu can contribute to heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes, especially in an older nursing home population where it can easily spread among residents,” Gravenstein said.

The nursing homes in the study were randomly assigned to one of two groups as a care standard for influensa prevention, with either the regular dose of the influenza vaccine or the high dose vaccine as the care standard for their residents age 65 and older.

“In our study, for every 83 individuals receiving the high dose vaccine, a person was prevented from being hospitalised during the influenza season,” Gravenstein pointed out.

The findings were presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America meeting in San Diego, California, US.

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