Covid-19, another virus closely related to the flu, also hits harder to older adults and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
So it’s important for everybody, especially those of us over 65, to get a flu shot this year, to avoid a “twin-demic”
Millions of people get sick with the flu each year, and thousands die.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that influenza was associated with more than 35.5 million illnesses, more than 16.5 million medical visits, 490,600 hospitalizations, and 34,200 deaths during the 2018–2019 influenza season
Older adults are particularly at risk for infection, hospitalization and even death due to flu-related complications, such as pneumonia.
This is why flu vaccination is especially important for everyone 65 years and older, especially this year, to avoid getting sick with one or two or all three of the dreaded ailments, and further stretching hospital resources.
Simply, It’s the best way to protect against the flu.With medical resources stretched thin by Coronavirus, it is especially important – and prudent – that you get your flu shot as soon as possible. I got mine. You should get yours, before supplies run out.
Types of flu vaccines for adults 65 years and older
There are several different flu vaccines available to older adults. These include standard-dose flu shots and two flu vaccines designed specifically for people 65 years and older.
Older adults can get any flu shot approved for use in their age group.
Older people have weaker immune systems that may not respond as well to standard-dose flu shots because they do not produce as high of an antibody response after the flu vaccination compared to younger people.
People with low antibody levels may be at a higher risk of becoming infected with the flu. To help improve the antibody response, people 65 years and older have the option of getting either a high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine. These two vaccines are specifically formulated for older adults, and in studies have demonstrated better protection against flu for this age group than the standard-dose shot.
What is the high-dose flu vaccine?
The “high-dose vaccine” contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot. The higher dose of antigen in the vaccine is intended to give older people a better immune response, and therefore, better protection against the flu.
What is the adjuvanted flu vaccine?
The adjuvanted flu shot contains an extra substance called an “adjuvant” that helps the vaccine create a stronger immune response.
What are the side effects of the high-dose and adjuvanted flu vaccine?
The high-dose and adjuvanted flu vaccines may cause more of the mild side effects that can also occur with standard-dose seasonal flu shots. Mild side effects can include pain, redness or swelling in the area where the shot was given. Some people may develop body aches or a low-grade fever. These symptoms are usually mild and quickly go away on their own.
Why a flu vaccination is needed every year.
Getting vaccinated each year provides the best protection against flu throughout the flu season.
Adults 65 years and older may want to consider one of the flu shots designed specifically for their age group—but getting any flu vaccine is better than not getting vaccinated at all. If you
have questions about which flu vaccine is best for you, talk to your health care provider.
This is adapted from the Walgreen’s website.
Photo courtesy Walgreens
- “All about the flu and how to prevent it,” National Institute on Aging. Web. 12 June 2019. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/all-about-flu-and-how-prevent-it
- “People 65 years and older and influenza,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 12 June 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/highrisk/65over.htm
- “Fluzone high dose seasonal influenza vaccine,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Web. 12 June 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/qa_fluzone.htm#anchor_1538740848631
- “Protect yourself from seasonal flu,” Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Web. 12 June 2019. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/doctor-visits/shotsvaccines/protect-yourself-from-seasonal-flu
- Slomski A. Recombinant Influenza Vaccine More Effective in Older Adults. JAMA. 2017;318(8):690