They brought out a stronger vaccine, Fluzone, for those over 65, allegedly to give better immunity, but it really doesn't seem to be more effective and it can cause more side-effects, so seniors should probably stick to the regular shot unless their doctor advises otherwise.
Even a weakened response to the flu vaccine is still better than not having any protection, Foofie, particularly because this year's flu out-break seems especially bad. The flu outbreaks started earlier and it seems to be a rather nasty strain. But the current vaccine includes that strain, so that's the good news--the shot is likely to be effective in preventing, or diminishing the severity of, the most prevalent strain that's circulating.
Flu season is a bad one, but it's not too late to get vaccinated
Jan 4, 2013
This year's flu season is coming on fast and strong, especially in the South and Southeast. The extra bad news: Only about a third of people got vaccinated early this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news: This year's vaccine seems to very effective, there are no reported shortages, and it's still not too late to get it.
The number of people hospitalized by the flu this season is up sharply compared with this time last year, as are the number of children who have died of it, with 16 pediatric deaths reported from October to the end of December. The disease appeared first in Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi back in November, and has since spread into the Midwest and Northeast. And the CDC expects the season to get much worse before it gets better, potentially making it one of the worst flu seasons in the last decade.
Despite that, many people remain skeptical of the flu vaccine. That's a mistake, says Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports' chief medical adviser. "The benefits of the regular flu vaccine far outweigh any risks," he says. "Thousands of people die from this disease every year. Get your shot now." (If you need more convincing, see our article 12 Reasons For Skipping the Flu Shot Are Exposed)
However, our medical experts do say that most people should avoid the high-dose flu vaccine, Fluzone. The vaccine was approved by the FDA for people 65 and older in 2009, but has not been proved to be more effective, and seems to cause more side effects like headaches and malaise. We think that until there is more certainty that the hoped-for increased effectiveness of Fluzone is worth the somewhat increased incidence of sore arms and other minor side effects, older people should stick with the standard flu vaccine
Although the early onset doesn’t necessarily portend an epidemic, medical professionals say this year’s strain is particularly severe.
“I think it is much more serious than last year,” said Dr. David Berry, a pediatrician in Blacksburg, Va. “Last year, it was incredibly minor. This is the classic intense flu — headache, body ache, fevers of 103, 104.”...
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden last month outlined the forecast for the 2012-13 flu season and identified the culprit as the H3N2 strain, a form that, although common, can be serious for young children and the elderly if left untreated. By mid-December, the CDC had recorded 16 pediatric deaths that were associated with influenza....
Officials said they saw the same strain of flu at work during the 2003-04 flu season, the last one to start as early as this year’s. They said that just because the season came early this year, it could peak early as well...
Not only that, contracting the flu can be costly, Dr. Montgomery said. Factoring in doctor visits and medicine, the flu can cost a person upward of $300. A cheaper solution, he said, is a vaccine.
The vaccine produced this year is a good match for the flu that is going around, CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said. But he said people can fall ill to another type of flu strain that the vaccine does not cover or could come into contact with the illness in the few weeks between the time they get the vaccine and the time it takes effect.
“We do know that people who are vaccinated, if they get sick with the flu, they tend to have more milder illness,” Mr. Skinner said. “But each flu is really unique in and of itself. There’s no explanation why we have mild seasons or why we have severe seasons.”
It's looking like a bad flu season in Toronto too...
Hundreds of cases reported as flu season in Toronto coming into full swing
Jan 5, 2013
TORONTO, Ont. – Toronto Public Health says there has recently been a big jump in the number of flu cases here in Toronto.
Combined with what is considered a potent strand and an early start to the season, it could make for a relatively bad flu season.
So far they’ve recorded 449 cases of the flu since early September, which is dramatically higher than the average of 188 for this point in the flu season.
It’s still too early to say if the flu season will turn out worse than the average year, however.
The U.S. Centre for Disease Control, meanwhile, says the flu has hit 41 states.
This makes it the earliest onset of the flu in nearly ten years, with health officials reporting lots of children are getting sick from the current flu.
So, anyone who hasn't yet gotten a flu shot, should probably consider getting one now--it's not too late.