I get a flu vaccine every year. I got the 1968 “Hong Kong” flu and never want to repeat the experience. I felt terrible pain in my bones as well as weakness. And I was only 14 at the time. I’m sure I would get much sicker now since I have asthma caused by industrial poisoning.
CDC estimates that flu has resulted in 9 million – 41 million illnesses, 140,000 – 710,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 – 52,000 deaths annually between 2010 and 2020 in the U.S. This is big enough to have Macroeconomic impact due to the work time lost and high cost of hospitalization. (Not to mention the pure misery of the patients.)
A new Danish study shows that a high-dose quadrivalent influenza vaccine versus a standard dose gives morbidity and mortality benefits. The great thing about European health studies is that they have national health databases which enables “big data” that are hard to come by in the fragmented U.S. health system.
In the DANFLU-1 study, there was a 48.9% reduction in the risk of all-cause mortality and a 64% reduction in the incidence of hospitalization for influenza or pneumonia for high-dose versus standard-dose vaccination. Also, hospitalization for cardiorespiratory complaints – a combination of any cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses – was reduced by 12% with the high-dose vaccine.
The open-label DANFLU-1 enrolled about 12,000 patients (median age 71.7; 47.1% women). The researchers think this data set is too small and they are planning enroll 208,000 Danish citizens to have sufficient power to assess whether the high-dose vaccine will reduce specific, detailed health problems (like separating cardiovascular from pulmonary problems).
I don’t care about the details. I’m convinced by the current study that shows a reduction by half of deaths and 2/3 of hospitalizations.
High-dose vaccines contain 60 µg of hemagglutinin antigen for each strain, while standard-dose vaccines contain 15 µg. High-dose vaccines are approved for adults aged 65 years and older in most countries, and for those 60 years and older in some countries, including the U.S.
The problem is that doctors and pharamacies may not automatically give the high dose flu vaccine even to seniors.
Bottom line: ASK for the high-dose flu vaccine if you are older than 60.