ATLANTA, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- This year's flu season hit the elderly the hardest and U.S. health officials still recommend the flu vaccine for the elderly, who have two vaccines available.
Officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said they continue to recommend influenza vaccination for those age 6 months or older, who have not yet been vaccinated as long as influenza viruses are circulating, including those 65 and older.
The elderly have two vaccines available to them: a regular trivalent inactivated vaccine -- the regular flu shot -- and the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine designed specifically for people age 65 and older.
"The Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains a higher dose of antigen than regular influenza shots, and this might give older people a better immune response to the vaccine. The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices have not expressed a preference for either vaccine," the report said. "Providers should continue vaccinating patients. Providers who have exhausted their supplies of influenza vaccine might be able to purchase additional vaccine. If unable to do so, providers should encourage their unvaccinated patients to seek influenza vaccine at other locations."
However, it should be noted, the elderly may not respond as well to vaccination as do younger, healthy adults and therefore, vaccination of caregivers and those in close contact with seniors is especially important for this reason, the CDC said.
In addition, anti-viral treatment can reduce the duration of illness and complications associated with influenza.
Early anti-viral treatment -- within 48 hours of illness -- is recommended for all persons with suspected influenza with severe or progressive illness or those age 65 and older.
The decision to initiate anti-viral treatment should be made regardless of vaccination status, should not wait for laboratory confirmation of influenza and should not be dependent on rapid influenza diagnostic tests, the CDC said.