Seniors and caregivers are at higher risk for flu
Cold and flu season is here again. Two of the most at-risk populations are seniors and caregivers.
That’s because older adults’ immune systems are weaker due to age and made worse by chronic illness. For caregivers, the chronic stress of taking care of an older adult impairs the immune system. And spending a lot of time with each other means passing germs back and forth.
A flu shot for seniors protects them against serious illness and complications. And when you get a flu shot, you’ll reduce the risk that you’ll get sick and infect your older adult. It will also save you the misery of being sick while continuing to take care of them.
We explain why flu is such a serious health risk for seniors, when and where to get the flu shot, and why a high-dose shot is needed. We also cover the shot’s effectiveness, how much it costs, and protecting against a common complication.
Flu is a serious health risk for seniors
Get vaccinated in October
The CDC recommends that everyone should get vaccinated before the end of October, especially adults over the age of 65. That’s because flu activity starts as early as October.
After getting the shot, it takes about 2 weeks for the protective flu antibodies to develop in the body. So, the sooner your older adult and you get the shot, the sooner you’ll have protection against the flu.
But getting the shot at any time is still better than not getting it at all.
Where to get a flu shot
Flu shots are now available in many convenient locations, like major drugstores, health clinics, and doctor’s offices.
That makes getting a flu shot quick and easy – often, you don’t even need an appointment.
The CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder shows flu vaccine clinics near you. In the box below, enter your zip code or city and state:
Or, go to the Vaccine Finder website and enter your zip code or city and state to find flu shot clinics near you.
Flu shot for seniors: a high-dose shot is recommended
For the 2017-2018 flu season, only the injectable flu shots are recommended. The nasal spray version should not be used.
Seniors need a special version because their immune systems are weaker. That decreases their body’s ability to have a good immune response after getting the vaccine and puts them at higher risk for severe illness. A higher dose vaccine gives older people a better immune response which increases protection against flu.
Getting the flu shot reduces flu risk and severity
Even if the flu vaccine isn’t 100% effective, it’s still worthwhile. Research shows that if someone who is vaccinated gets the flu, it will be a milder case.
People 65 and older are at high risk of serious flu complications and account for the majority of flu hospitalizations and deaths each year. But those who got the flu shot reduced their risk of being hospitalized due to flu by 50%.
The flu shot is free under Medicare
If your older adult has Medicare, the flu shot is free as long as the provider accepts Medicare. There is no co-insurance or co-payment needed. And your older adult doesn’t have to meet their deductible to get the vaccine.
Most private insurance companies cover flu shots as a preventive service, so it will likely be free for you too.
Protect against deadly flu complications
A severe form of pneumonia is a common and deadly complication of the flu.
In addition to the flu shot, people age 65 or older, smokers, and those with diabetes or lung problems should get a pneumococcal vaccination.
The pneumococcal vaccine isn’t needed every year, so be sure to check with your older adult’s doctor to see if they’re already covered or if they need one.
Get trusted information from the CDC
For more information, visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions page to find out:
- What’s new for the 2017-2018 flu season
- What types of shots are available
- Why the nasal spray option isn’t recommended
- The updated guidelines for egg allergies
Next Step Get a flu shot at a location near you
Recommended for you:
- 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor: Being a Health Advocate
- Prevent and Manage the 10 Most Common Chronic Diseases in Older Adults
- Make Caregiving Easier with a Caregiver Notebook Template
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Havenwood Home Care