It’s the fall season again. Along with cooler temperatures and the beautiful autumn colors in nature, it’s also the return of flu season. The flu can vary in severity every year with some years worse than others. The flu vaccine is still the best way to avoid getting the flu. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seniors are at particular risk of complications from the flu, which can be severe. Here’s more information about why seniors should get the flu vaccine.
The Flu Shot is Different for Seniors
The influenza vaccine is different for seniors and younger people. For senior patients, there are two different vaccines available.
- The “high dose” vaccine, which contains four times the amount of the antigen as the regular flu shot is for those over age 65. Research demonstrates that seniors have a higher antibody response to the higher-dose vaccine. The study of more than 30,000 seniors has found a 24 percent lower rate of influenza infection after the higher-dose vaccine. The high dose vaccine has been in use since 2009.
- The Fluad vaccine comes from the MF59 adjuvant. Previous studies have shown a 63 percent stronger immune response to the adjuvanted flu vaccine. It first became available in the U.S. market in the 2016-17 flu season.
Both the high-dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may cause more of the mild reactions people can get to the vaccine. Please note that seniors should not receive the form of flu vaccine that is administered by nasal spray.
Complications from the Flu are Most Serious for Seniors
Although experts recommend that everyone should get the flu vaccine to reduce the risk of getting the flu, it is especially important that seniors do so. That’s because senior citizens are at much higher risk of experiencing complications if they do contract the flu. Seniors are more likely to develop secondary complications after getting the flu, including bacterial pneumonia.
When seniors get pneumonia, it is more likely to be fatal than it is in younger people. Seniors are also more likely to suffer life-threatening complications related to the flu if they also have heart or lung problems.
Other Ways for Seniors to Protect their Health
During flu season, make sure to steer clear of people who are coughing or sneezing. Be sure to wash hands thoroughly after public contact. Keep your immune system strengthened by getting enough sleep, exercise, and healthy food. Seniors over age 65, should also consider getting the pneumococcal vaccine to prevent additional illnesses.
People who have gotten the flu vaccine can still catch the flu in some cases. Consult your doctor as soon as possible if you have flu symptoms like high fever, chills, coughing, body aches, and fatigue. If caught early enough, you can receive antiviral medications that can shorten the duration of the flu.
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