Seniors are 90% of Flu Deaths; Just 65% Get Free
Actions those senior citizens 65 and older need to
take this flu season with links to lots of information - CDC says get
shot by October
28, 2014 – There is a reason that senior citizens are the focus of
attention when flu season approaches - 90 percent of seasonal
flu-related deaths and between 50 and 60 percent of seasonal flu-related
hospitalizations in the U.S. occur in people 65 years and older,
according to government estimates. Knowing these numbers and that
Medicare provides free flu shots, it should be easy to convince seniors
to get vaccinated.
It has been recognized for many years that people
65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the
flu compared with young, healthy adults. This is because human immune
defenses become weaker with age. So influenza can be a very serious
disease for people 65 and older.
Yet, only about 65% of those age 65 and older get a
Actions to Take This Flu
1. Get Your Flu Shot - The best way to
prevent the flu is with a
CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal
flu vaccine soon after it becomes available in your community, ideally
by October. Vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and
older because they are
at high risk for
complications from flu.
A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that
research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. (See
Vaccine Virus Selection for this
season’s exact vaccine composition.) The vaccine has been updated for
this season and immunity wanes over a 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 flu shots
available to choose from - a regular dose flu vaccine and a
newer flu vaccine designed for people 65 and older
with a higher dose. The high dose vaccine is associated with a stronger
immune response to vaccination (higher antibody production). Whether or
not the improved immune response translated into greater protection
against flu disease has been the topic of ongoing research.
study published in The New England Journal
of Medicine indicated that the high-dose vaccine was 24.2%
more effective in preventing flu in adults 65 years of age and older
relative to a standard-dose vaccine. (The confidence interval for this
result was 9.7% to 36.5%).
The CDC and its Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices have not expressed a preference for either vaccine. These new
findings will be considered along with other available data in ACIP's
future policy deliberations.
3. Seek medical advice quickly if you
develop flu symptomsto see whether you might need medical evaluation or treatment
It's very important that antiviral drugs be used early to treat flu in
people who are very sick with flu (for example, people who are in the
hospital), and people who are sick with flu and have a greater chance of
getting serious flu complications, like people 65 and older.
Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat,
runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some
people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with
the flu and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.
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