Flu Shots Help Seniors Stay Well
As of February 26, 2021, the CDC reported 193.8 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States. This is the highest number of flu doses distributed in the United States during a single influenza season. Many people are receiving the flu vaccine this year in hopes of staying out of the hospital and avoiding contact with COVID-19 patients.
The CDC recommends that people 65 and older receive a flu shot because they are at higher risk of developing and encountering serious flu complications. Because the immune system and its defenses change as you age, seniors may experience a much more severe flu that could result in hospitalization. The CDC has been recommending people get the flu vaccine especially if COVID-19 is still spreading in your community, as it is an essential part of protecting your health and your family’s health.
Getting a flu shot every year is your best protection from the flu and the challenges that can come with it. But the flu shot also protects against so much more:
●Among people with chronic respiratory diseases like COPD, the risk of flu-related hospitalization or death may be reduced.
●Among people with diabetes, the risk of flu-related hospitalization for stroke or for heart failure may be reduced.
●While a flu shot won’t protect against COVID-19, it is your best protection against severe flu-related respiratory illness.
●By getting vaccinated, you can also protect those around you that may be at higher risk for serious illness from the flu.
Seniors can receive any flu vaccine that is approved for use in their age group. However, there are two vaccines specifically designed for people 65 years of age and older – a high dose flu vaccine and an adjuvanted flu vaccine. Both are specifically designed to benefit people in this age range.
The high dose flu vaccine, known as Fluzone, contains a higher amount of antigens than a regular flu shot. The inactivated virus promotes a protective immune response and creates higher antibody production following vaccination. CDC studies show that adults 65 and over who received the high dose vaccine had 24 percent fewer influenza infections compared to those who received the standard dose vaccine.
The adjuvanted flu vaccine, known as Fluad, is made with MF59 adjuvant – a more powerful antigen designed to create a stronger immune response. According to the CDC, observational studies of those 65 and older found that trivalent Fluad provided greater protection against flu-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits than a standard dose flu vaccine.
In addition to getting a flu shot, people 65 and older should take the same everyday preventive actions that the CDC recommends for everyone:
●Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
●Stay home when you are sick to help prevent spreading your illness to others.
●Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
●Clean your hands often to help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
●Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth to stop the spread of germs contracted on a person’s hand into their body.
Seniors can feel safe and well this flu season by getting vaccinated and taking these everyday preventive actions to avoid getting sick. You should always consult with your doctor before getting a vaccine to see if any prior illness or allergies could react negatively with the shot.
If your body is showing signs of possible flu symptoms, you should also call your doctor immediately. The CDC recommends prompt treatment with a flu antiviral medication. The sooner you receive treatment, the better your chances of a smooth recovery.
If you or someone you know is Medicare-eligible and searching for a senior-focused primary care doctor, CenterWell Senior Primary Care is all about giving our patients the time, attention and care they deserve. Visit www.seniorfocusedhouston.com
or call 713-804-2503 to find out more about CenterWell locations in your area.