A new adjuvanted flu vaccine could prevent more than 1,700 flu deaths in adults aged 65 years and over every year across the UK, according to a study.

The vaccine, Fluad, contains MF59, an adjuvant designed to help the body’s immune system to better fight off the flu virus.

Specifically made for the elderly, Fluad could also prevent more than 175,000 cases of flu and reduce around 21,800 GP consultations per year, the study found.

Currently, only non-adjuvanted vaccines are offered to the over-65s. In 2016, the conventional flu vaccines failed to protect those aged 65 years and over against the seasonal flu virus caused by a specific subtype, H3N2, according to research by Public Health England (PHE).

Severe flu in elderly patients

Dr James Mansi, the lead investigator on the study on Fluad, said: ‘Influenza in older adults is often particularly severe, due in part to their ageing immune systems, which means that vaccines don’t produce an optimal immune response.’

Researchers compared the effectiveness of Fluad against three matched and mismatched strains of flu, A/H1N1, A/H3N2 and B. The study shows that the new vaccine was 30% more protective against A/H1N1, 40% more protective against A/H3N2 and 12% more effective against B than standard vaccines.

The adjuvanated vaccine was between 31% and 39% more effective against A/H3N2 and 16% more against B than non-adjuvanted vaccines, the study found.

The new vaccine is currently available in the UK for pre-ordering for use in the 2018/19 season.