Older patients having flu vaccine twice

Misleading media reports have prompted Queensland Health to reassure older Queenslanders that the high-strength trivalent is their best bet against the disease

There have been reports that older Queenslanders have been getting the trivalent vaccine which was developed specifically for over-65s – and then going out and having the standard quadrivalent vaccine as well.

Medical Director of the Immunisation Program Dr Alun Richards advised that they seek medical advice instead.

“Queensland Health does not recommend obtaining the two vaccines as it is not necessary,” he said.

“Additionally, the use of multiple types of vaccines in one season has not yet been studied.

“While not recommended, administration of both vaccine types to an individual is not contraindicated, so if anyone has already received both vaccines, there are no serious safety concerns.”

Dr Richards said that this behaviour could be in response to “recent media” articles which “have spread misinformation and caused a bit of a stir”. He did not name the media outlets involved.

“There has been some concern from older Queenslanders, due to misinformation, that the trivalent flu vaccine won’t protect them against flu as well as the standard quadrivalent vaccine,” he said.

“I would like to reassure people aged 65 years and older that the best protection for you against flu this season is the enhanced trivalent vaccine.

“Global experts recommend the trivalent vaccine for this cohort for several important reasons.

“Older people do not respond as well to standard influenza vaccine as the immune system response to influenza vaccine decreases with age.

“The enhanced vaccine is designed specifically to increase the immune system’s response to vaccine, especially against influenza A (H3N2) strain which is more common and severe in people aged 65 and older.”

Dr Richards said the enhanced vaccine provides a stronger defence against two A strains and one B strain.

“Australian surveillance data shows those aged 65 years and older are affected more by A strains that are circulating in the community, than they are by B strains,” he said.

“Research also shows that older people tend to have a level of immunity to B strains because of exposure to these strains in previous seasons.

“Although the enhanced vaccine contains one less B strain virus, the benefits of better and broader protection against the strains included will outweigh any potential loss of protection against the missing alternative B strain virus.”

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