Flu season is here again. And unfortunately, older adults are one of the highest risk groups for flu.
But getting a flu shot will significantly reduce the chance that they’ll get sick.
And if they do end up getting the flu, already having the flu vaccine makes it less severe and less likely to develop into dangerous complications.
We share 5 reasons why a flu shot for seniors is so important for protecting their health.
We also 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.
5 reasons why flu vaccines are so important for seniors
1. 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.
Many seniors are vulnerable to seasonal flu because their immune systems are weaker due to age and made worse by chronic illness.
Getting a flu shot protects older adults against serious illness and complications.
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.
2. Flu is a serious health risk for seniors
For seniors, the flu can quickly develop into a severe illness and could cause death.
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 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 seniors who got the flu shot reduced their risk of being hospitalized due to flu by 50%. That’s a huge difference.
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.
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 need one this year.
When to get a flu shot: October
Flu activity starts as early as October, so the CDC recommends that everyone should get vaccinated before the end of October – especially adults over age 65.
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.
What type of vaccine is recommended for seniors? The high-dose flu shot
Seniors need these special 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 vaccine effectiveness and puts them at higher risk for severe illness.
These higher dose vaccines help older bodies produce a better immune response and increases their protection against the flu.
Where to get a flu shot: find a local clinic
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 – most of these locations don’t even require an appointment.
The CDC’s Flu Vaccine Finder shows flu vaccine clinics near you. Visit the Vaccine Finder website and enter your zip code or city and state to find flu shot clinics near you.
Where to get more info: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To get additional information from a trusted, reputable source, visit the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions page.
There you’ll be able to find out what’s new for the 2019-2020 flu season, what types of vaccinations are available, and more.
Photo Credit: Depositphotos