High-dose beats standard flu vaccine for elderly in long-term care, researchers find

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Frail, elderly people in long-term care facilities received a greater antibody boost from a high-dose influenza vaccine than a standard vaccine in a recent study, researchers have announced. 

Prior clinical trials of the high-dose vaccine involved healthy seniors living in the community, creating doubt about how effective the vaccine would be for those in long-term care settings, according to Richard Zimmerman, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh. Zimmerman and his team tested the vaccine in this population.

The two-year study involved 200 long-term care residents with an average age between 86 and 87, who required assistance with many daily living activities.

Zimmerman explained the team's findings at last week's IDWeek conference in San Francisco, according to news reports. In the first year, participants' antibody levels for all three flu strains in the vaccine were much higher after 30 days if they received the high-dose vaccine, the team found.

In the second year, the high-dose vaccine boosted antibody levels for an A-strain and B-strain, although it did not significantly boost antibodies to the H1N1 strain. This could be because some of the participants took part in both years, so they came in already vaccinated against H1N1, Zimmerman explained.

Last year's flu season took a heavy toll on long-term care residents. The vaccine available provided poor protection to seniors, especially against a strain of influenza A, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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