PHENIX CITY, Ala. (WRBL) – The CDC recently announced its recommendation for those 65 and older to get a high-dose flu vaccination.
According to the CDC, after numerous observational studies, high-dose flu vaccines prove that they are more effective at protecting high-risk individuals from hospitalizations after contracting the flu.
Dr. Daryl Ellis, a family physician operating in Phenix City, Alabama, says the CDC’s recommendation is related to what the medical field observed during COVID-19.
“The CDC is, for the first time, actually came out with this recommendation for a higher dose form of the influenza vaccine for people at what we consider high-risk,” said Dr. Ellis. “Those are people age 65 and older, and in part, it is related to what we just went through with the COVID-19 vaccine; when we saw how many people in that age group who are the most susceptible in our population suffered from an adverse amount and a disproportionate amount of morbidity and death.”
People aged 65 and older are considered more at risk due to weaker immune systems that occur over time with age.
Dr. Ellis also provided insight into why older individuals are at high risk of hospitalization and possibly death after catching the flu.
“It’s a result of, as we get older, our immune system is much less robust and provides additional protection against viral illnesses that we know are circulating in the community,” said Dr. Ellis. “It helps protect that most at-risk group to the greatest degree. So we try and decrease the impact on high-risk groups by providing them with a higher dose of the vaccine.”
Additionally, younger individuals, including infants younger than 6-month-old are susceptible to hospitalization after contracting the viral illness.
Dr. Ellis shared how infants are also considered high-risk groups for hospitalizations.
“Infants, in particular, have not developed the significant immune response yet; and that puts them at a higher risk category,” said Dr. Ellis. “Unfortunately, our vaccination process does not go down below six months of age. So from birth to six months, they are relatively unprotected, so our best protection is to protect those that are around them.”
Although individuals 65 and older are recommended to get the vaccine, Dr. Ellis also recommends other precautions people can take to boost their immune systems.
“Vaccinations is just a part of an overall program that should be implemented by all of us to try and increase our risk of staying healthy, said Dr. Ellis. “The other things is that is natural that help boosts your immune response is, number one, is getting adequate sleep at night. Number two, regular daily exercise is also a great immune booster; supplementation with certain supplements like vitamin C and Zinc also can help boost the immune system.”
Dr. Ellis cautions not to take Zinc supplements daily for no more than six months at a time.