What you should know about flu vaccinations and seniors:
If you have a senior in your life, make sure he or she gets a flu shot this season. Influenza is nothing to mess around with. In recent flu seasons, 80%-90% of flu related deaths have occurred amongst our seniors and 54%-70% of season flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among this senior group – those 65 years of age and older. The official “flu season” is as early as October and can last as late as May. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only injectable influenza vaccines should be used this 2016-2017 season and the nasal spray (or “mist”) should not be used at this time.
Technically, the only people who should NOT be getting a flu shot are children younger than 6 months and people with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine (or any ingredient in the vaccine). And, there are actually different flu shots based on your age. For example, those younger than 65 should NOT receive the high dose flue shot or the flue shot with adjuvant. And those younger than 18 or older than 64 should not receive the intradermal flu shot. It’s always best to talk with your physician before getting any vaccination of course. For seniors, the recommended vaccination are made specifically for this age group as the human immune defenses became weaker with age which can place seniors at greater risk of severe illness from the flu. The higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is supposed to give older people a better immune response.
Beyond the flu vaccination and seniors.
Beyond getting the flu shot, remember to promote good healthy habits among your seniors – frequent washing of hands, covering your cough and eliminating contact with those who are sick. If you are caring for a senior who does appear to be suffering from flu-like symptoms, don’t wait. It’s key to get treated right away. Symptoms can include fever, cough, sore throat, runny/stuffy nose, chills, fatigue or a headache. Even vomiting and diarrhea can occur as a result of the flu.
For more information on the flu vaccine for seniors, click here.