Flu season is here. If you are 65 or older, or caring for people 65 and older, it’s important to get your flu shot and take other steps to protect yourself and others from catching and spreading the flu virus.
Seniors are especially susceptible to the flu and its complications because immune systems weaken with age. Health complications that can arise from the flu include:
- Bacterial pneumonia
- Ear infections
- Sinus infections
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions (congestive heart failure, asthma, diabetes)
Ninety percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations occur in people over the age of 65. That’s why it’s especially important for health care workers, home caregivers and everyone 65 and older to get the flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in your area.
High Dose Flu Vaccine Created for Seniors
Adults over 65 should ask their doctors about the high-dose flu vaccine, which has been specially formulated and approved for use in the elder population. The high-dose flu vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen contained in the regular dose flu vaccine and is intended to create a stronger immune response and stronger protection against the flu.
More Flu Prevention Steps
In addition to getting the flu shot, you can protect yourself and others from catching and spreading the flu virus by taking these preventive actions:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue away immediately.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use an antiseptic wipes or alcohol rub to kill flu germs on your hands.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, where flu germs are most likely to reside.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- If you do catch the flu, stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever subsides, to ensure you do not spread the flu to others. The fever should be completely gone without taking fever-reducing medication.
- When you are sick, avoid contact with others to avoid infecting them as well.