There has been some concern over the level of protection offered to older people by the influenza vaccines currently available, so it came as welcome news from the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that a more effective vaccine is to be made available for the 2018/2019 flu season. When it met in November 2017 the JCVI recommended the use of the adjuvanted vaccine Fluad for older patients in the next flu season (adjuvants are substances added to a vaccine to increase its immunogenicity).

An extract from the JCVI’s minutes states that “The committee agreed that the available evidence indicated adjuvanted vaccines were more effective in those over 65 years of age, compared with influenza vaccine currently used in the UK. Mathematical modelling indicated that, under quite conservative estimates of effectiveness, the adjuvanted vaccine would be highly cost-effective in both the 65-75 and 75 and over age groups”. The JCVI went on to say that “switching vaccination of the 75 years and upwards age group to adjuvanted vaccine would be the first priority, given the un-adjuvanted vaccine showed no significant effectiveness in this age group”.bjfm winter flu quote

This was backed up by Dr George Kassianos, the RCGP lead on immunisation, who stated that “It is becoming more and more evident that conventional nonadjuvanted vaccines do not provide sufficient protection for our older patients, particularly in years dominated by the influenza A (H3N2) virus”. The H3N2 virus is the virus responsible for the so-called “Aussie flu” that caused serious problems in Australia during its winter and is now reaching the UK and can be particularly serious in older people.