Experts say this year's flu vaccine didn't work for seniors - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Experts say this year's flu vaccine didn't work for seniors

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Every year, health experts give the same message when it comes to getting a flu shot: everyone should get one, especially the elderly.

But as it turns out, this year's vaccine didn't do a whole lot for the over-65 crowd.

"It's a good, but not perfect vaccine," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "When it came to seniors, the group that needs the most protection, it worked quite inadequately, frankly."

Schaffner said there are a number of reasons why it went wrong this year.

"We had a double whammy, because the flu strain that was around was particularly aggressive and, of course, older persons are simply more susceptible to serious complications from influenza," Schaffner said.

The flu vaccine is a moving target. Its formula changes every year, because the flu virus changes every year.

And, for seniors, Schaffner said next year the answer might be a double dose.

"For seniors, there's a high dose vaccine that's available. That clearly gives you more punch," Schaffner said.

But even with this year's disappointing numbers, experts like Schaffner are still singing the same tune.

"Next fall, let's all get the flu vaccine," Schaffner said.

Schaffner said this flu season is clearly on the decline, so the nagging cough and sniffles many people are experiencing right now is probably not flu-related.

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