Vaccination is best line of defense against the flu

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

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Flu season is right around the corner.  Each year in the United States, more than 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than 60 percent of hospitalizations occur in people aged 65 and older.

Why are older adults more at risk for severe complications from the flu? Because their immune defenses become weaker with age.

That is why it is important to get a yearly flu shot.  Getting vaccinated is the safest and best weapon of defense against the flu.  Vaccination not only protects you from the flu virus, but it also helps protect those around you who may be unable to get the vaccine because of their age or other underlying health issues. 

The flu vaccine is updated each year to best protect the population from currently circulating flu viruses.  The vaccine’s effectiveness wears off over the course of the year, so you should get vaccinated this year even if you were vaccinated last season. Immunity sets in about two weeks after vaccination.

People 65 years and older have two vaccine options available—the traditional flu shot, as well as a higher dose flu vaccine designed specifically to address the age-related decline of the immune system.  The higher dose vaccine triggers the body to produce more antibodies against the flu virus than would be produced by the traditional flu shot.  Both vaccine options are covered by Medicare Part B with no copay.

There are many places to get a flu shot.  Your doctor’s office, local pharmacy, or health department are all good places to start.  Get a list of local health departments in our Resource Directory. 

Learn more about seniors and the flu at National Council on Aging's Flu and You website or from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention