Shots for Health – Surviving the Flu Season

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Health issues get more complicated the older we get and it’s especially true when you’re talking about the flu season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly encourages people 65 and older to get their flu shots each and every year.

The CDC estimates up to 70 percent of all hospitalizations due to complication from the flu are for older people. What’s worse is that the number goes up to 85 percent when it comes to flu-related deaths. Don’t think because you had one last year it will protect you from this year’s flu. The protection only lasts about a year and each year drug companies must update vaccines for the newest onslaught of strains.

Good Shots & Better Shots

For people over 65, the CDC recommends getting an age appropriate shot. Though there are other flu vaccines on the market for seniors, the FDC recommends high dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines , which are more effective than the standard dose flu vaccines.  These type of vaccines come with the possibility of getting a mild case of the flu. Mild side effects can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache, muscle ache and malaise;  the side effects typically resolve within 1-3 days.

The CDC does not recommend that people 65 and older get the nasal spray  or jet injection vaccine. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor if you develop flu-like symptoms.

Extra Care During the Flu Season

Always avoid people who are sick during the flu season, or at least take extra precautions if you do visit them. Washing your hands often is always a good practice, but it is especially important during the flu season. Doctor’s offices and hospitals are the places where you are most likely to catch the flu. It might be wise to buy a few paper masks if you must go to either of these places.

As always, staying healthy is your best defense. Getting enough sleep, eating right and drinking plenty of fluids will help you stay healthy. Remember older people tend to dehydrate easily, especially during the colder months of the year when our heated houses become drier.

There are Always Exceptions to the Rules

My mother is 81 but her doctor has warned her not to get a flu shot because she is a survivor of Guillain Barre Syndrome. If you’ve had an illness that may have started after having the flu or included complications to your immune system, see your doctor before getting your flu shot.

(This article was updated April, 2024 since it originally published October, 2016.)

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