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The federal advisory panel said Wednesday that American ages 65 and up should get newer flu vaccines.
Regular shots, they said, do not provide enough protection for the seniors, whose weakened immune systems do not respond as well as traditional shots.
The shots include Fluzone High-Dose, Fluad with an immune booster or Flublok.
If the newer shots aren’t available, the members said seniors should get regular flu shots.
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“These influenza vaccines are better but are not yet the home run that we would love to have,” panel member Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot, of Vanderbilt University, said.
The panel’s recommendations are usually taken on by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), but this would be the first time the government has stated a flu vaccine preference for this age group.
CDC officials reported that the flu vaccine last winter was just 35% effective in preventing flu symptoms severe enough to require medical attention.
While influenza viruses are detected year-round in the US. flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter.
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Activity often begins to increase in October.
The agency said everyone six months and older should receive an annual flu vaccine.
People who are ages 65 and older are at higher risk of developing flu complications.
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It’s estimated that, in recent years, between 70% and 85% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in those 65 and older.
Between 50% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.