CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., adopted the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ (ACIP) recommendation to preferentially recommend the use of specific flu vaccines for adults 65 years and older, including higher dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines. The preference applies to Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, Flublok Quadrivalent and Fluad Quadrivalent flu vaccines.
While flu seasons vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease, accounting for the majority of flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. Additionally, changes in the immune system with age mean that older adults often do not have as strong an immune response to vaccination as younger, healthy people. “Given their increased risk of flu-associated severe illness, hospitalization, and death, it’s important to use these potentially more effective vaccines in people 65 years and older,” said José R. Romero, M.D., Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Additionally, data has shown that racial and ethnic health disparities exist in populations that receive a high-dose flu vaccine compared with standard-dose flu vaccines. “This recommendation could help reduce health disparities by making these vaccines more available to racial and ethnic minority groups,” said Dr. Romero.
Last Thursday, ACIP voted to preferentially recommend the use of higher-dose flu or adjuvanted flu vaccines over standard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines for people 65 years and older. This recommendation was based on a review of available studies which suggests that, in this age group, these vaccines are potentially more effective than standard-dose unadjuvanted flu vaccines. Dr. Walensky’s adoption of the ACIP recommendation makes this recommendation official CDC policy, which will be further detailed in an upcoming Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Recommendation Report later this summer.
In recent years, CDC has not recommended any one flu vaccine over another for any age group, and there is still no preferential recommendation for people younger than 65. People 65 and older should try to get one of the three preferentially recommended vaccines, however, if one of these vaccines is not available at the time of administration, people in this age group should get a standard-dose flu vaccine instead.