Is It Time For The Flu Shot Already?

Why should the elderly get a flu shot?

photo-blog-influenza-book-coverAccording to the CDC it is estimated that 50 to 60 percent of hospitalizations for flu related symptoms occur in those 65 years and older. And about 90% of deaths associated with influenza, occur in this age group.

The elderly have a decreased immune system response, which places them at increased risk of severe illness and complications from influenza. The most effective way to protect yourself from becoming infected by the flu virus is to wash your hands frequently, and avoid people who are sick.

The exact timing of flu season varies, but flu outbreaks can happen as early as October,but frequently peaks in January or later.

What are common flu symptoms?

Flu symptoms frequently begin with upper respiratory symptoms such as runny nose, headache, sore throat, cough, and progress to fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Fever is not always present.  Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.

Flu symptoms develop rapidly compared to cold symptoms which develop gradually.

How do I prevent getting the flu?

The CDC recommends that people over age 65 years receive the flu vaccination, ideally, before October.  There is a higher dose of the flu vaccine available for those over 65, which provides a better immune response and better protection against the flu.

“A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine indicated that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2% more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years of age and older relative to a standard-dose vaccine.”

Are there medications that can treat the flu?

There are antiviral medications available such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza) which can be prescribed by your doctor.  However, treatment with these medications is most effective shortly after flu symptoms are present.

These medications only shorten the length of the flu symptoms, and help prevent serious complications.

Want to find out more?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What You Should Know and Do this Flu Season If You Are 65 Years and Older

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Flu Season

The Mayo Clinic
Influenza (flu): Treatments and drugs

Helen Trowsdale, President of AA Care Services, is a nurse administrator with over 30 years of experience as a BSN, psychiatric nurse, and geriatric care manager with adults as well as pediatrics in hospitals, private duty home health care agencies, and residential home health care. Her team of caregivers are dedicated to serving their clients with home care in San Antonio, New Braunfels, and Austin; providing clients with consistent, quality care while minimizing the number of caregivers in the home. Learn more about AA Care Services.

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