Repeated influenza vaccination helps in reducing flu severity in older adults

Repeated vaccination for influenza in older adults reduced the severity of the virus and decreased hospital admissions, discovered new research published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

A group of Spanish researchers looked in 2013/14 and 2014/15 at the effect of repeated influenza vaccinations in the current and 3 previous seasons in individuals aged 65 years and older admitted to 20 Spanish hospitals to determine if repeat vaccination reduced severe influenza.

They discovered repeated influenza vaccination was twice as effective in individuals admitted to hospital for the virus in preventing severe influenza, compared and nonsevere cases, and that this impact was consistent regardless of flu season, virus subtypes or age of the patient.

“Repeated vaccination for influenza was very effective in preventing severe and fatal infection caused by influenza in more older adults,” write Dr. Itziar Casado and Dr. Jesús Castilla, Instituto de Salud Pública de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, with coauthors.

The examination adds to discoveries from previous research that shows influenza vaccination decreases the severity of the disease.

“By 2 mechanisms severe cases of influenza might be prevented, the effectiveness of vaccination against severe influenza might be more prominent than that for mild cases, and the advantage of influenza vaccination might be more prominent than that assessed in previous examinations. In both the current and previous seasons, the prevention of severe and fatal infection caused by influenza was observed mainly in patients who were vaccinated, which reinforces the suggestion of yearly vaccination for influenza in older adults,” the authors conclude.

Influenza Vaccine Recommendations

All individuals a half year of age and older are recommended to get an influenza vaccination every year. Depending upon the vaccine types available to you, the 2017-2018 vaccine will protect against either three or four different influenza viruses.

Vaccination is particularly important for specific individuals who are at “high risk” of serious complications from occasional flu. Individuals at high risk include adults age 65 years and older, children younger than five years old, pregnant women, and individuals of all ages with certain chronic medical conditions.

Also, individuals who live with or care for people who are at increased risk of developing serious complications should be vaccinated. This includes household contacts and guardians of young children (particularly newborn children less than a half year of age) and individuals with certain medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.

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