Feb 23, 2022 - Health

Sanofi pushes for high-dose flu shot recommendation

Photo Illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Advisors to the CDC will consider today whether to clarify flu vaccine guidelines and for the first time recommend a "high-dose" shot over a standard dose for seniors.

Why it matters: Even amid the pandemic, flu remains a major public health threat, especially for adults older than 65.

Driving the news: Sanofi is pushing the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to state a "clear preference" for its Fluzone high-dose vaccine products for adults over 65 in time to factor into federal guidance for the 2022-23 flu season.

  • The product is the only licensed high-dose inactivated flu vaccine in the U.S. for those 65 and older.
  • ACIP currently recommends all adults get flu vaccines, but does not indicate a preference for the high-dose version.

Between the lines: Standard shots only reduce the risk of flu illness between 40% and 60% among the overall population when vaccines are well-matched to circulating flu viruses.

  • A clinical trial found seniors who received a high-dose vaccine had 24% fewer flu illnesses compared to those who received the standard-dose vaccine.
  • It's estimated that between 50% and 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur among people 65 and older.

What they're saying: "There's a better understanding of what these severe complications are for the flu," Michael Greenberg, North American medical head for Sanofi, told Axios.

  • "We have good data now that shows influenza increases the risk for a heart attack by about tenfold or a stroke by about eightfold. Or if you're diabetic, you've got a 75% chance, if you get the flu, that it'll throw off your blood sugar control."

The bottom line: ACIP recommendations have a bearing not only on what patients are seeking or doctors recommend, but what Medicare or commercial insurers pay for without cost-sharing — and what vaccine orders ultimately get placed for the next flu season.

Editor's note: The headline and story have been corrected to reflect that Sanofi (not its former name, Sanofi Pasteur,) is seeking a CDC recommendation for its high-dose flu vaccine.

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