Harvard Women's Health Watch

Higher-dose flu vaccine is more protective in people over 65

A study published in the Aug. 14, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine indicates that a high-dose version of the flu vaccine is more effective than the standard dose in preventing the flu for people over 65. The vaccine manufacturer, Sanofi Pasteur, had been required by the FDA to demonstrate that the high-dose version, which contains four times the dose of immune-stimulating antigens, actually works better than the standard dose.

About 32,000 people over 65 were randomly assigned to get either the standard flu vaccine or the high-dose version. All were asked to report any flulike illness they got over the next few months.

Although over 8,000 people in each group had respiratory symptoms, only 529 people actually had the flu—301 who got the standard dose and 228 who received the high dose. The difference between the two groups indicates that about one-fourth of flu cases in vaccinated people could be prevented by choosing the higher-dose vaccine.

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