Last year’s flu season was considered by the CDC as high severity, with high levels of clinic, ER, and hospital visits. 2017-2018 Flu season was classified by the CDC as high severity over all age ranges, and was one of the longest flu seasons in recent years, lasting for 19 weeks. It was reported that 58% of hospitalizations due to the flu were patients 65 years and older. Since this is Guardian Pharmacy Atlanta’s main patient population, we added another service to our clients to help protect them from flu.
We are providing two different vaccines, the quadrivalent vaccine and the high dose vaccine. The quadrivalent flu vaccine is designed to protect against four different flu viruses; two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. For years, flu vaccines were designed to protect against three different flu viruses (trivalent vaccines). However, experts had to choose one B virus, even though there are two different lineages of B viruses that both circulate during most seasons. This meant the vaccine may not protect as well against the group of B viruses not included in the vaccine. Adding another B virus to the vaccine aims to give broader protection against circulating flu viruses.
Fluzone High-Dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen (the part of the vaccine that prompts the body to make antibody) contained in regular flu shots. The additional antigen is intended to create a stronger immune response (more antibody) in the person getting the vaccine. Human immune defenses become weaker with age, which places older people at greater risk of severe illness from influenza. Also, ageing decreases the body’s ability to have a good immune response after getting influenza vaccine. A higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is supposed to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against flu. Data from clinical trials comparing the high dose vaccine with quadrivalent vaccine indicate a stronger immune response after vaccinating with high dose. The safety profile of high dose vaccine is similar to that of regular flu vaccines.
Armed with the above information from the CDC, and our desire to provide the best service to our clients, Guardian Pharmacy Atlanta began mid-September providing in-community vaccine clinics for residents and staff. All of our long term care pharmacists are APhA certified, immunizing pharmacists, and are really enjoying getting to meet staff, residents in our communities. If you would like more information about flu clinics, please call Guardian pharmacy at 770-635-3301.