65 or Older? Get a Flu Shot!

It’s your best “shot” at staying healthy

By Diane Kane, MD

As we age, our immune defenses become weaker. That’s why people 65 and older are at higher risk of severe complications from the flu. Catching the flu not only makes you feel miserable, but it can also result in hospitalization and even death.

With reported cases of the flu on the rise in Monroe County, how can you stay safe this flu season?

Get your annual flu shot

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as long as flu viruses continue to circulate in our area, it’s not too late to vaccinate — even now. Getting a flu shot is the best way for seniors to prevent the flu.

The two flu vaccine options explicitly designed for people 65 and older are a high-dose vaccine and a Fluad vaccine. Both create a stronger immune response that is beneficial for seniors and which takes effect in about two weeks after immunization. Ask your health-care provider which is right for you.

Be aware that people 65 and older should not get the nasal spray flu vaccine, the intradermal flu shot or jet injector flu vaccine.

Keep other vaccinations current

Ask your doctor if you also need any pneumococcal vaccinations to protect against diseases such as pneumococcal pneumonia, a severe flu-related complication that can cause death.

Practice good health habits

Covering your coughs, washing your hands often, and avoiding people who are sick can also help keep the flu away. And if you are sick, avoid unnecessary interactions with others.

‘With the flu season still under way, protection is essential. Get a flu shot today at your doctor’s office, pharmacy or local clinic.’

Get medical help immediately

If you have any flu symptoms, get to a doctor, clinic or emergency room for a full medical evaluation. The most common symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Respiratory symptoms without a fever may also be signs of the flu.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may receive treatment with antiviral drugs, the benefits of which are greatest when started within the first two days of illness.

With the flu season still under way, protection is essential. Get a flu shot today at your doctor’s office, pharmacy or local clinic.

Physician Diane Kane is chief medical officer at St. Ann’s Community and founding physician of Pillar Medical Associates. She is board certified in internal medicine, geriatrics and hospice and palliative medicine and has been involved in senior care for 30 years. Contact her at dkane@stannscommunity.com or visit www.stannscommunity.com.