This information came from the CDC. Very interesting read. Are you getting a Flu Shot?? Comment and let us know.
How effective is the flu vaccine in the elderly?
Older people with weaker immune systems often have a lower protective immune response after flu vaccination compared to younger, healthier people. This can result in lower vaccine effectiveness in these people.
Despite the fact that flu vaccines can work less well in people who are 65 and older, there are many reasons why people in that age group should be vaccinated each year.
- First, people 65 and older are at high risk of getting seriously ill, being hospitalized and dying from the flu.
- Second, while the effectiveness of the flu vaccine can be lower among older people, there are seasons when significant benefit can be observed in terms of averting illness that results in a doctor’s visit. Even if the vaccine provides less protection in older adults than it might in younger people, some protection is better than no protection at all, especially in this high risk group.
- Third, current CDC studies look at how well the vaccine works in preventing flu illness that results in a doctor’s visit or admission to a hospital. This is just one outcome. There are other studies that look at the effects of flu vaccination on hospitalization rates as well as looking at death as on outcome. For example, one study concluded that one death was prevented for every 4,000 people vaccinated against the flu (Fireman et al, 2009).
- In frail elderly adults, hospitalizations can mark the beginning of a significant decline in overall health and mobility, potentially resulting in loss of the ability to live independently or to complete basic activities of daily living. While the protection elderly adults obtain from flu vaccination can vary significantly, a yearly flu vaccination is still the best protection currently available against the flu.
- There are limited data to suggest that flu vaccination may reduce flu illness severity; so while someone who is vaccinated may still get infected, their illness may be milder.
- Fourth, it’s important to remember that people who are 65 and older are a diverse group and often are different from one another in terms of their overall health, level of activity and mobility, and behavior when it comes to seeking medical care. This group includes people who are healthy and active and have responsive immune systems, as well as those who have underlying medical conditions that may weaken their immune system, and therefore, their bodies’ ability to respond to vaccination. Therefore, when evaluating the benefits of flu vaccination, it’s important to look at a broader picture than what one study’s findings can present. Although flu vaccine is not perfect, the overall evidence supports the public health benefit of flu vaccination. Vaccination is particularly important for people 65 and older who are especially vulnerable to serious illness and death, despite the fact that the vaccine may not work as well in this age group.