Becoming Flu-ent: A Look at Influenza
and its Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, September 20,
12 p.m. EDT

Janet McElhaney

This session will explore the often overlooked burden of influenza by examining its impact beyond the lung. While influenza among young adults can be characterized as a respiratory illness, influenza among seniors is increasingly viewed as a cardiorespiratory disease, given its capacity to trigger cardiovascular outcomes (stroke, MI) and respiratory complications (pneumonia).

Seniors represent a particularly important target for influenza prevention since 70% of influenza-related hospitalizations and 90% of influenza-related deaths occur in those over 65. While more than half of seniors get immunized against influenza, age-related declines in their immune responses (immunosenescence) render seniors not only more vulnerable to infections, but also less responsive to standard influenza vaccines. As a consequence, regular influenza vaccine effectiveness among older adults is generally half of that of adults under 65.

This session will also discuss the evolving complement of influenza vaccines available in Canada and review NACI’s most recent position on influenza vaccines available to Canadians over 65. As a high-dose influenza vaccine was authorized for use in Canada in 2015, this session will summarize clinical and ‘real-world’ field evidence from the US experience where this vaccine has been available since 2009 and is received by more than 60% of immunized seniors.

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