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Older Adults Prove Less Protected by Flu Vaccine

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB)– Most of us receive the flu shot and figure we are protected against the disease, or at least a severe case of it. But it seems for older adults, this year’s vaccination was less than effective.

Overall the vaccine was 56% effective, meaning it reduced the risk of a doctor’s visit for flu symptoms by 56%. But for adults 65 and older, those who received the vaccine were just as likely to visit the doctor as those who hadn’t been vaccinated.

But Dr. Daniel Skiest, Chief of Infectious Disease at Baystate Medical Center says that isn’t surprising.

“Patients who are older usually over 65, we know have a lower response rate to vaccines because their immune system is not working quite as well,” said Dr. Skiest.

According to the Center for Disease Control, the vaccines effectiveness can vary, not only from season to season, but also from person to person. And next year’s vaccine could be even more effective than this years.

“There is always new research for vaccines. There’s going to be a vaccine that has instead of 3 types of strains, next year there’s a new one approved that has 4 strains,” added Dr. Skiest.

But whether it’s a question of immune systems for older adults or what strain of flu circulated this past season, both the CDC and Dr. Skeist recommend being vaccinated every year.

“The reason it’s really important, especially for the elderly to get the vaccine is because we know that the morbidity and the mortality kn the elderly from the flu is actually quite significant,” said Dr, Skeist.

Dr. Skeist also recommends that even if you have gotten your flu shot you should still protect yourself by washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with those who are obviously ill.


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