Each fall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urges Americans to get the influenza vaccine. As the U.S. continues to see the devastating effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to get a senior flu shot. If your loved one is 65 or older, getting a flu shot is still important, even if they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Older adults are at high risk for life-threatening complications from the flu, including hospitalizations and death. The CDC estimates the flu causes 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. every year. The CDC also estimates up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations and 85% of deaths associated with the flu occur in seniors age 65 and older.
Ensuring your senior loved one is protected against the flu can help prevent flu-related complications and hospitalizations. Learn about the different types of senior flu shots, their effectiveness, possible side effects, and how they can prevent flu-related complications.
The senior flu shot is a vaccine developed specifically for adults age 65 and older to protect them against the flu virus. According to the CDC, seniors need stronger protection because immune systems tend to weaken with age, putting older adults at an increased risk of serious flu-related complications, such as pneumonia, other respiratory problems, hospitalizations, and even death. The flu can also worsen chronic conditions that are common in seniors — like diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The senior flu shot creates a stronger immune response that helps older adults’ immune systems fight the flu virus more effectively than the regular flu shot. The vaccine works by stimulating the production of antibodies that protect seniors against the virus.
While older adults may get any flu vaccine approved for their age group, two flu vaccines were developed specifically for seniors: the high-dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine.
The following flu vaccines are recommended for adults 65 and older only. Talk to your doctor about which senior flu shot is right for your loved one.
The flu vaccine is not 100% effective, but it’s still one of the best ways to prevent the flu, according to the CDC. The regular flu vaccine seems to be less effective in seniors than it is in younger adults. However, PubMed studies have found the high-dose senior flu shot better protects older adults against the flu when compared with the standard flu vaccine.
Getting vaccinated also seems to reduce the severity of illness for people who get sick with the flu, according to the CDC. In fact, researchers have found that flu vaccinations in recent years have reduced the need for flu-related hospitalizations among older adults by 40%.
The senior flu shot is considered safe, but it may cause mild side effects related to inflammation and the body’s immune response. During the week after getting the vaccine, seniors may experience the following symptoms:
According to the CDC, you should check with the doctor before getting your loved one a senior flu shot if they have one of the following conditions or reactions:
COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots may cause side effects similar to senior flu shots. It is still unknown whether coadministration of these vaccines leads to more reactivity to ingredients, sensitivity, or side effects, according to the CDC.
If you’ve received or are planning to receive a COVID-19 vaccine or booster along with a senior flu shot, here’s what you need to know:
You should first consult your loved one’s doctor to figure out what could work best for them.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Several locations offer senior flu shots, including doctor’s offices, local health departments, and pharmacies.
You may be worried about taking your senior relative to get a flu shot this year if COVID-19 is still spreading in your community. However, the CDC says it’s especially important for seniors and others who are at increased risk for flu complications to get vaccinated.
There are certain steps your loved one can take to stay safe when going to get the flu shot:
View CDC guidelines for more information on protecting yourself and senior relatives from the seasonal flu as well as COVID-19.
It’s best to get vaccinated before the flu begins to spread in your community. It takes about two weeks for antibodies to develop after getting the flu shot.
However, getting vaccinated too early, like in the summer, may reduce protection against the flu virus. This is why the CDC recommends getting the flu shot early in the fall, right before the flu season begins. Plan to take your aging loved one to get a senior flu shot by the end of October.
Although getting a senior flu shot is a great way to help prevent the flu, also encourage your aging loved one to take these steps to stay healthy:
Original article by A Place for Mom senior content strategist Angelike Gaunt.
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