The 2020 flu season is upon us and it is more important than ever to protect
oneself and avoid a “twindemic” of the flu and coronavirus,
especially for seniors. Our Primary Care physician offices are safe and
follow the most stringent guidelines to safeguard the vaccination process.
We highly-recommended this first step in a list of measured precautions
to avoid the risk of severe flu symptoms.
It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are
at more serious risk for complications from the flu compared with younger
adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. According
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated
that between 70 and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred
in people 65 years and older and 50 to 70 percent of seasonal flu-related
hospitalizations come from this same age group.
What can you do to combat the flu this season?
- Get Your Flu Vaccine/Shot Early: The best way to protect against the flu
and its potentially serious complications is to get your flu shot each
year. The CDC recommends by the end of October for seniors because they
are at higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu.
- Decide Which Vaccine is Best for You: When it comes to flu vaccines, there
are choices outside of the standard dose option. These decisions are even
more important for seniors to consider.
Here are two additional types of flu shots for people 65 years and older
High-Dose Flu Vaccine
The “high dose vaccine” contains 4 times the amount of antigen
as a regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response
following vaccination (higher antibody production). Results from a clinical
trial performed by the CDC of more than 30,000 participants showed that
adults 65+ who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza
infections compared to those who received the standard dose.
Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine
The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, is made with MF59 adjuvant, an additive
that creates a stronger immune response to vaccination. In a Canadian
observational study, Fluad was 64% more effective than regular dose vaccines.
(The high dose and adjuvenated flu vaccines may result in more of the mild
side effects that can occur with standard-dose shots. Mild side effects
can include pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, headache,
muscle ache and malaise.)
Other Preventive Actions
In addition to getting the flu shot, seniors should take the same everyday
preventive actions recommended by the CDC, including covering coughs,
washing hands often, avoiding face touching, staying out of crowded places
and avoiding people who are sick. Good rest is also important. The better
rested and healthier you are, the more likely your immune system is able
to fight off infections and protect you from more severe cases of influenza.
Flu shots are available at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and flu clinics.
Some emergency warning signs of flu in adults:
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- Persistent dizziness, confusion, inability to arouse
- Not urinating
- Severe muscle pain
- Severe weakness or unsteadiness
- Fever or cough that improve but then return or worsen
- Worsening of chronic medical conditions
This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for
any other symptoms that are of concern.
*Flu shots are available at doctors’ offices, pharmacies and flu clinics.*