Date published: 2023-09-25
The 2023-2024 flu season is here
Getting an annual flu vaccine reduces the severity and spread of respiratory illness.
This is more important than ever because flu, RSV, and Covid-19 are all circulating during the fall and winter seasons.
Flu vaccination is especially important for adults 65 years and older, who account for most hospitalizations and deaths from flu – and from Covid-19.
We share 5 reasons why a flu shot for seniors is so important for protecting their health.
And we explain when getting the flu shot is most effective, what type of vaccine seniors should get, where to get a flu shot, and where to get additional information from a trusted source.
We also share information about the updated Covid-19 vaccine and new RSV vaccine.
5 reasons why flu shots for seniors are so important
1. Flu is a serious health risk for seniors
Older adults are one of the highest risk groups for flu and for them, flu can quickly develop into a severe illness and could cause death.
Getting a flu shot significantly reduces the chance that an older adult will get severely ill.
And even if they do end up getting the flu, already having the flu vaccine makes their illness less severe and less likely to develop into dangerous complications.
2. Seniors and caregivers are at higher risk for flu
Many seniors are vulnerable to seasonal flu because their immune systems are weaker due to age and often made worse by chronic health conditions.
For caregivers, the chronic stress of taking care of your older adult impairs your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to illness.
And spending a lot of time with your older adult means passing germs back and forth.
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 care for them.
3. 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 does get the flu, they will have 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 seniors who got the flu shot reduced their risk of being hospitalized due to the flu by 40 to 60%.
4. The flu vaccine 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. If you don’t have insurance, many drugstores and clinics offer flu shots at low cost.
5. Protect against deadly flu complications
A severe form of pneumonia is a common and deadly complication of the flu.
The pneumococcal vaccine isn’t needed every year, so be sure to check with your older adult’s doctor to find out if they need one this year.
When should seniors get a flu shot: September – October
With flu and Covid-19 going around, the CDC recommends that everyone should get vaccinated in September or October – especially adults over age 65. Ideally, everyone should be vaccinated by the end of 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 both have protection against the flu.
But experts agree that getting the shot at any time is still much better than not getting it at all.
Note: The CDC states that the flu shot and the Covid-19 booster are safe to get at the same time.
The high-dose flu shot is recommended for seniors
For the 2023-2024 flu season, it’s recommended for adults over age 65 to get one of three vaccine options:
- Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine
- Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine
- Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine
Seniors need these special high-dose versions of the flu shot because their immune systems don’t produce as strong an immune response after getting the regular-dose vaccine.
That reduces the regular dose vaccine’s effectiveness and puts them at higher risk for severe illness.
The higher dose vaccines help older bodies produce a better immune response and increase their protection against the flu.
Where to get a flu shot: find a local clinic
Flu shots are available in many convenient locations, like major drugstores, health clinics, and doctor’s offices.
That makes getting a flu shot quick and easy – many of these locations don’t even require an appointment, you can walk in anytime.
Use the simple nationwide online vaccine finder to find a convenient flu shot clinic near you.
You could also contact your doctor’s office or use online flu vaccine finders from major drugstore pharmacies, including:
Vaccine availability can change, so call ahead to make sure they have the specific vaccines that you need before going.
Note: To find a Covid-19 booster or vaccine near you, click here.
Where to get more info about the flu: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To get more information about the flu and flu shots from a trusted, reputable source, visit the CDC’s Flu Info page.
There you’ll be able to find out what’s new for the 2023-2024 flu season, what types of vaccinations are available, and more.
Covid-19 vaccines and boosters protect older adults from severe illness
Older adults are more likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid-19.
In addition to masking and getting early treatment if infected, staying up to date on Covid-19 vaccines protects against severe illness and death.
For the 2023-2024 season, the CDC recommends that everyone aged 5 years and older should get 1 dose of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Click here to find a Covid-19 vaccine near you.
Who should get the new RSV vaccine
RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus. It’s a virus that infects the lungs and respiratory tract causing cold-like symptoms.
It’s so common that most children have been infected with it by the time they’re 2 years old. The virus can also infect adults.
RSV can be dangerous for older adults and any adults with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems.
That’s why adults 60 years and older should talk with their doctor about whether RSV vaccination is right for them.
An RSV vaccination helps protect from severe disease or complications and may be recommended for people who:
- Have a weakened immune system from serious illness or from certain medications
- Have chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease
- Live in a nursing home.
These individuals might be at higher risk of severe RSV disease and an RSV vaccine could help prevent serious illness.
Get more info about RSV vaccination from the CDC here.
Recommended for you:
- Pneumonia in Seniors: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
- 5 Tips for Choosing the Safest Over the Counter Painkillers for Seniors
- 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor: Being a Health Advocate
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
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