Why Getting an Annual Flu Shot is Essential for Senior Health
Flu season is in full swing, but if you haven’t already gotten your flu shot, it’s not too late. You can still get one now to help protect you during the coming months. According to the CDC, “People 65 years and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults.” Also, given the current corona virus pandemic, it is even more essential for seniors to take precautions against getting sick.
The flu virus is constantly changing, and scientists update the vaccine each year to align with what they predict the most common strains will be. That means that you need to get a new shot every year. Although it does not guarantee that you will not get sick, it can help lessen the severity of symptoms if you do.
Even though you have likely been exposed to more flu viruses during your lifetime, as you age, your immune system weakens leaving you more susceptible to illness and complications. In battling the flu, you could be at higher risk for developing pneumonia or bronchitis, which can be difficult to overcome. This puts a lot of strain on your body and can lead to hospital stays and lingering effects.
A Flu Shot Just for Seniors
Recognizing this increased risk, scientists have developed specialized flu shots just for seniors. The high-dose vaccine contains four times the amount of antigens as the standard flu shot. The adjuvanted flu vaccine contains a substance that also boosts immune response and can help ward off the flu virus. Studies have shown that this can be an effective way of helping to prevent illness in addition to usual safety precautions such as regularly washing your hands and avoiding contact with people who are sick.
In addition, individuals who are age 65 or older can also get a pneumococcal vaccine to help protect against pneumonia, another common illness that often develops during flu season as well and that can be a complication of the flu.
Talk to your doctor about which flu shot may be the best option for you, and whether or not you should also receive the pneumococcal vaccine. Many insurance plans, including Medicare Part B, cover flu vaccines at no cost to you. There are also many sites that provide free or low-cost shots because they want to help people stay healthy and reduce their risk of contracting the flu. Keep in mind that it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to become fully effective, so the sooner you get it, the better.
Continuing to wear a mask and practicing social distancing can also help to reduce not just the spread of the coronavirus, but also of the flu. It can add another layer of protection and keep you from spreading as many germs if you happen to be sick.
To minimize your exposure and ensure that you’re still receiving the level of care you need, hiring an in-home caregiver can be beneficial. This allows you to have someone there who can help you with a wide range of tasks and provide the support you need to safely age in place. Call Always Best Care of Clinton Township today at 586 329-1950 to schedule a free consultation.