An increasing number of seniors are visiting their community pharmacies. Individuals over 65 make up between 15 per cent and 23 per cent of the population of BC’s Lower Mainland and the number of seniors over 80 continues to rise.
Far from being frail, Canadian seniors are often healthy, active and independent. A recent survey by the Public Health Agency of Canada reports that 23 per cent of seniors aged 75 and older received help with domestic housework — about the same proportion as younger adults aged 25 to 54.
Influenza’s threat to independence
As healthy as today’s seniors are, influenza remains a serious public health concern for this age group. Seniors account for 70 per cent of influenza-related hospitalizations and 90 per cent of influenza-related death.
Though many seniors remain more active, their immune systems weaken over time, which can affect their body’s ability to have a good response to the influenza vaccine.
In addition, 74 per cent of Canadian seniors report having at least one chronic medical condition; influenza can aggravate existing illnesses and increase the risk of mortality. A cardiovascular comorbidity increases the risk of death by five times and a respiratory comorbidity by 12 times. Seniors with both cardiovascular and respiratory comorbidities have a 20 times mortality risk increase.
Getting an annual flu shot is a good first step for anyone hoping to avoid the flu. Seniors may also choose to use high-dose trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (HD TIIV), also known as Fluzone® High Dose, which has four times the antigen of a standard dose influenza vaccine (60 µg vs 15 µg per dose).
A higher dose of the antigen in the vaccine has been shown to give seniors a more robust immune response, leading to better protection against the flu. HD TIIV has demonstrated to be more effective (24.2 per cent) than standard dosing vaccine.
Following are the stories of three seniors that would benefit from HD TIIV; are any in your practice?
Submitted by Ajit Johal RPh, B.Sc. (Pharm), BCPP, CTH, CDE, Clinical Services Coordinator, Wilson Pharmacy; CEO, Next Level Medication Management