We cannot emphasize enough the importance of flu shots for the elderly. While some people may balk at the prospect of getting another shot, the brief inconvenience is worth it, we assure you. You can avoid troublesome symptoms like high fevers and respiratory distress, and you can prevent a small flu from turning into a deadly threat to your immune system. Although experts recommend that you receive a flu shot in mid-to-late fall, it is not too late to protect your health. The worst part of the flu season occurs from January to April (source), so if you forgot about your flu shot in the rush of the holiday season, now is the time to take action.
The Importance of Flu Shots For the Elderly
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) currently recommends that all seniors over the age 65 receive an annual flu shot (source). It is also important to note that older adults who have not yet reached the age of 65 still benefit from having a flu shot, and it is especially critical for anyone who lives with a chronic illness that compromises their immune system. This is because the lower immune response experienced by older adults makes it harder to fight off the flu, and the virus can complicate existing illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Avoid Spreading the Illness
Everyone should do their part to prevent the spread of the flu. When a senior gets a flu shot, they reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus to their friends and family members. This is especially important for grandparents who will be visiting with younger grandchildren who are also susceptible to the worst effects of the flu. Seniors who care for an ill spouse or friend with a compromised immune system also bear a responsibility to do everything they can to prevent spreading the flu.
Know Your Vaccination Options
For seniors over 65, there are multiple vaccine options that can be selected based upon one’s health and the recommendations of their physician. Recently, higher dose vaccines have become available. They generate a higher immune response that is more effective for certain seniors. To determine which vaccine is the best option for you, seek the advice of a medical professional.
Prevent Serious Complications
Skipping the annual flu vaccine places seniors at greater risk for developing serious complications that arise from the virus. Even healthy seniors may develop conditions such as pneumonia or bronchitis, which can lead to hospitalization. For those with serious health conditions, such as heart or lung disease, the flu can be even more dangerous. Sadly, the CDC reports that approximately 85 percent of flu-related deaths have occurred in seniors over the age of 65 (source). A simple flu vaccine is all it takes to prevent the worst from happening.
Although the flu vaccine receives a lot of publicity at the beginning of the season, seniors should be aware that it is not too late to guard against this serious illness. According to the CDC, the flu season peaks in February and continues through March, which means there is still time to take action now. By scheduling this one simple vaccination, you can preserve your wellbeing and avoid falling prey to life-threatening complications. Contact your doctor today to discuss the importance of flu shots for the elderly.
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