The flu isn’t a minor seasonal setback for seniors. It’s a serious disease that can send you to your bed – or the hospital – for weeks.
- People of all ages – even strong, healthy people – can suffer AND SPREAD the flu.
- On average, more than 200,000 people in the US are hospitalized each year for flu-related respiratory and heart illness.
- People 85 years and older are hospitalized at the highest rates.
- Anywhere from 3,000 to 49,000 people have died during each flu season between 1967 and 2007.
- 90% of those who died were over age 65.
(All statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s web pages on Seasonal Influenza.)
According to the CDC, “The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.”
Why Each Year?
- Over time, the shot “wears off.” A vaccine prods your body’s immune system into producing an army of antibodies. This hard-charging force grows tired and weakens as it fights through the flu season. It needs reinforcements every fall.
- Viruses constantly change. Like other dangerous invaders, they adapt to overpower new defenses. Each year the flu vaccine changes, too. It’s reformulated to be effective against whichever viruses it’s most likely to battle.
The flu season can begin as early as October and end as late as May. It peaks between December and February.
Your body needs about two weeks to develop antibodies after vaccination.
So the best time to get a flu shot is NOW!
Can a Flu Shot Guarantee I Won’t Get Sick?
No. A flu shot protects you only from influenza. Lots of look-alike viruses with similar symptoms pass through during the season. The flu shot won’t protect against them.
It’s also possible that you’ll run into a flu virus that’s not perfectly matched to this year’s vaccine.
And most vaccines work best in healthy adults or older children.
You Should Still Get a Flu Shot!
- Even if the match isn’t perfect, your antibodies will put up a fight. If you get the flu, you’re likely to have a milder bout.
- Even if your body isn’t good at producing lots of strong antibodies, some protection is better than none.
- If this year’s match is good, and if your immune system rises to the challenge, you could avoid the flu altogether.
- If you avoid the flu, you help those around you avoid it, too. That’s important when you’re living with – or caring for – small children, seniors or people with chronic health conditions. They are especially vulnerable to flu’s worst outcomes.
- You’ll have a better chance of staying out of the hospital. According to the CDC,
[su_row][su_column center=”yes”][su_note note_color=”#ebf3f2″ class=”standout”]One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.[/su_note][/su_column][/su_row]
Is a Shot the Only Way?
Getting a flu shot is the best way to fight flu. But you shouldn’t forget everyday common sense for keeping everyone healthy.
- Wash your hands!
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Maintain good health habits – watch your sleep, diet, fluids, exercise and stress.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- And, again, WASH YOUR HANDS!
[su_note note_color=”#f8c243″ class=”standout”]We’ve Scheduled Our Flu Shot!
Spectrum Home Health Agency gave flu shots to residents in each of our homes this week.
Did you get yours?
Need help finding the vaccine? Visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder.[/su_note]
Source: CDC.gov (www.cdc.gov), online source for credible health information and the official Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), October 15, 2014.