Is there anything better than the fall, with its refreshing cooler weather, colorful changing leaves, and…the flu? Unfortunately, flu season kicks in along with the more positive aspects of autumn, leading to the great debate on whether or not we should receive a flu shot.
The simple answer, for everyone 6 months of age or older, is yes – and especially so for seniors, who are at a greater risk for serious complications from contracting the flu. In fact, the CDC estimates that an astounding 70 – 85% of flu-related deaths occur in those 65 and older. Receiving a flu shot greatly reduces that risk, along with the lowering ICU admissions and the duration of hospitalizations.
Below is a breakdown of the types of flu vaccines that are available this year that are designed specifically for older adults, from the Salt Lake City home health care team at Harmony Home Health & Hospice:
- High dose vaccine: Containing four times as much antigen as a typical flu shot, the high dose vaccine has been shown to reduce flu risk in those age 65 and older by as much as 24% (compared with seniors who receive a regular flu shot).
- Adjuvanted vaccine: First introduced in the 2016 – 2017 flu season, this vaccine contains an additive, Fluad, which produces a stronger immune response and has been found to be as much as 63% more effective than the traditional flu shot in seniors.
Seniors should check with their primary care physician to determine which type of flu shot is recommended for them.
One of the top deterrents for receiving the flu shot has been the concern about potential side effects, or even the possibility of contracting the flu virus from the vaccine. Because the vaccine is not a live virus, there’s no chance of catching the flu from receiving a flu shot. There are, however, several mild, temporary side effects that can result from the vaccine, including fatigue, headache, muscle ache, and redness, pan or swelling at the site of the injection. It’s important to keep in mind that the side effects in no way compare to the potential complications of coming down with the flu itself.
In addition to an annual flu shot, the CDC also recommends a pneumococcal vaccine to protect against dangerous conditions such as pneumonia, meningitis, and infections of the blood. Be sure to check with the senior’s doctor, as this vaccine is only required once and should provide protection for the duration of the senior’s life.
For additional information related to obtaining a flu shot for your senior loved one, or for more details about our customized home health care services for individuals of all ages, contact the Salt Lake City home health care team at Harmony Home Health & Hospice at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322).