Along with the entrance of winter, we have welcomed cold and flu season. There is a lot to know about the influenza virus. The most important thing to know is that your risk of getting the flu decreases greatly if you get a flu shot. According to the Center for Disease Control, the peak of the 2013-2014 flu season will be in January, so there is still time to protect yourself and others.
Flu Facts for Seniors
- Due to weakened immune systems, seniors 65 and older are at a higher risk for contracting the flu virus.
- More than half of flu-related hospitalizations and 95% of flu-related deaths are seniors age 65 and older.
- Seniors can take the regular dose flu shot or a high-dose flu shot designed specifically for seniors 65 and older. Your healthcare provider can tell you which one is right for you.
- Older adults with any flu-like symptoms should contact their healthcare provider right away.
- Seniors have an increased risk of flu side-effects including pneumonia. Talk to your healthcare provider about also receiving the pneumococcal vaccine.
It is important for seniors to get the flu shot as they are at higher risk for complications. Encourage family and friends to get the flu shot, especially if they meet the criteria below:
- Are at high risk of developing serious complications (like pneumonia) if they get sick with the flu.
- Have medical conditions including asthma, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
- Are pregnant.
- Are younger than 5 years (and especially those younger than 2 years), and people 65 years and older.
Watch for symptoms and call your physician or healthcare provider if you have any flu-like symptoms this season. Flu symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches
- Chills & fatigue
Did you know:
- Washing your hands can GREATLY reduce the spread of the flu and other viruses. If you can’t wash your hands, alcohol-based hand sanitizers can easily reduce the number of germs on your hands. Just remember that sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs.
- Sleep, exercise, and healthy eating can all help your immune system fight the flu.
- People who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs may be advised not to get the flu shot. Some types of the flu vaccine contain small amounts of egg.