The flu vaccine for seniors helps protect older adults from the more serious complications of the seasonal flu.
2020 has been quite a year, with the pandemic requiring everyone to adopt to a new normal that included social distancing, face coverings and more frequent hand-washing. While the pandemic has disrupted many of our day-to-day routines, one thing it has not changed is the importance of the flu vaccine for seniors.
Flu season typically begins in the fall and extends into the spring, with the peak coming sometime between December and February. This year, health experts are urging everyone, but especially seniors and individuals with underlying health conditions, to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible in order to be protected from the most serious complications, which may include bronchitis, pneumonia and inflammation of the heart, brain or muscles.
Health experts are particularly concerned about this year’s flu season because it will coincide with a potential uptick in COVID-19 positive patients who may need to be hospitalized. Each year, between 50 – 70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations are attributed to people over the age of 65. Experts are hoping to head off the possibility of an overwhelmed healthcare system by strongly encouraging flu vaccines for everyone over six months of age.
To help ensure seniors are equipped with the most up-to-date information regarding flu shots, Visiting Care Giving Services has prepared the following frequently asked questions:
- When should I get a flu shot? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that older adults over the age of 65 and individuals with compromised immune systems get the flu shot beginning in mid-September and before the end of October.
- Where can I get the flu vaccine? If you already have an appointment scheduled with your physician, ask him or her if the flu vaccine is in stock. Most pharmacies also offer the flu vaccine and seniors can typically walk up and have the shot administered. The Healthmap Vaccine Finder website is also a great way to locate a pharmacy or flu shot clinic near you.
- As a senior, what are my options for the flu shot? For individuals over the age of 65 the CDC recommends the high dose flu vaccine option which offers a higher immune response and better protection against the flu. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the high-dose vaccine was 24% more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years and older when compared to a standard-dose vaccine. Consult your healthcare provider for further guidance.
- What is the cost for the flu vaccine? For seniors with Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance, the flu shot is typically free.
- Is the flu vaccine safe? In a word, yes. While individuals who have had adverse reactions to vaccines in the past, or who have an allergy to eggs should consults their physician, the flu vaccine is considered safe for nearly everyone over the age of six months. Each year, the vaccine undergoes numerous clinical trials and is approved by the Federal Drug Administration prior to being released to the public. After receiving a flu shot, it’s not uncommon to experience minor pain and stiffness at the site of the injection.
At Visiting Care Giving Services, our compassionate caregivers can help ensure a senior you love is protected from the flu by providing accompanied transportation to get the flu vaccine. Additionally, our team can plan and prepare healthy meals to help seniors maintain nourishment and can provide encouragement for regular exercise to help maintain strength and balance. We are proud to offer a wide array of home care services that can be customized for each client, ensuring he or she lives a healthy and active life.
To learn more about our professional senior home care in St. Charles and surrounding areas, reach out to us at (636) 493-9058 to schedule a free in home assessment. For a full list of all the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.