This year, all people age 65 and older are encouraged to get a special type of flu vaccine for extra protection.

Doctors have a message for vaccine-weary Americans: Don’t miss a flu shot this fall — and seniors, ask for a special-strength shot.

After influenza has reached an all-time low during Art Pandemic of the coronavirus infection covid-19, it may be ready for a comeback. Top tip: A nasty flu season has just ended in Australia.

While it’s impossible to predict whether the U.S. will be hit as hard, “last year we went into flu season not knowing if we had the flu or not. This year, we know the flu is back,” said flu specialist Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis.

Annual flu shots are recommended starting with 6-month-old babies. The flu is most dangerous for people age 65 and older, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health problems, including heart and lung disease.


As people get older, their immune systems don’t respond as well to the standard flu vaccination. This year, people age 65 and older are encouraged to purchase a special look for extra protection.

There are three options. Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok contain higher doses of the main anti-influenza ingredient. Another option is Fluad Adjuvanted, which has the usual dosage but contains a special ingredient that helps boost people’s immune response.

Older people may ask what their doctor looks like. But most flu shots are given at drugstores, and the websites of some pharmacies, such as CVS, automatically direct people to locations that offer senior doses if their birth date indicates they qualify.

Webby advised making sure older relatives and friends know about senior shots, in case they aren’t told when they seek the vaccination.

“They should at least ask, ‘Do you have any shots that are better for me?'” Webby said. “The bottom line is that they work better” for that age group.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if a location does not have enough targeted doses for older adults, it is better to get a standard flu shot than to skip the vaccination.

All flu vaccines in the U.S. — including types for people younger than 65 — are “quadrivalent,” meaning they protect against four different strains of the flu. Young people also have options, including shots for those with egg allergies and a nasal spray version called FluMist.


Australia has just experienced its worst flu season in five years, and what happens in the southern hemisphere winter often predicts what northern countries can expect, said Dr Andrew Pekosh of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

And people have largely abandoned the masking and distancing precautions that earlier in the pandemic also helped prevent the spread of other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu.

“This poses a risk, especially to young children who may not have been exposed to flu viruses prior to this season,” Pekosh added.

“This year we’re going to have a real flu season that we’ve seen before the pandemic,” said Dr. Jason Newland, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.

He said children’s hospitals were already seeing an unusual early spike in other respiratory infections, including RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, and worried the flu would also hit earlier than usual – as it had in Australia.

The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine by the end of October, but says it can be given at any time during the flu season. It takes about two weeks to install the protection.

This year, the US expects between 173 and 183 million doses. And yes, you can get the flu shot and the updated COVID-19 booster at the same time—one in each arm to help reduce pain.

Flu shots are THE FUTURE

The companies that make the two most common vaccines against COVID-19 are testing flu shots made with the same technology. One reason: As the flu mutates, so-called mRNA vaccine recipes can be updated more quickly than today’s flu shots, most of which are made by growing the flu virus in chicken eggs.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech are recruiting 25,000 healthy American adults to receive either an experimental flu shot or a regular shot to see how effective the new approach is this flu season.

Rival Moderna tested its version on about 6,000 people in Australia, Argentina and other countries during the southern hemisphere’s flu season and is awaiting results.