August is National Immunization Awareness Month, the perfect time to get your flu vaccine. Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. People 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age.
In recent years, for example, it’s estimated that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.
Why A Flu Shot Is Your Best Shot at Health
The best way to prevent the flu is with a regular flu shot. Flu vaccines are often updated each season to keep up with changing viruses. In addition, immunity wanes over a year so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against influenza.
A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The vaccine is updated every year to better match circulating viruses. Immunity from vaccination sets in after about two weeks. People 65 years and older can get any injectable vaccine (flu shot) that is approved for use in that age group.
This includes two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 and older:
- A high-dose flu vaccine (Fluzone® High-Dose) contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot. The additional antigen creates a stronger immune response (more antibodies) in the person getting vaccinated.
- An adjuvanted vaccine (FLUAD™) is a standard-dose flu vaccine with an added adjuvant. An adjuvant is an ingredient added to a vaccine to help create a stronger immune response to vaccination.
Other Ways to Stay Healthy
In addition to receiving your vaccination, you can help prevent the spread of flu by practicing good health habits: covering coughs, washing your hands, and avoiding people if they or you are sick. And if you do develop flulike symptoms—such as a fever, cough, aches, sore throat, or chills—contact your healthcare provider right away. Finally, remember to get your pneumococcal vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease such as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.
At MBK Living, the health of our residents, their family members, and caregivers is critically important. We encourage residents, their families, and our staff to get vaccinated by visiting onsite clinics (where available) or obtaining vaccinations from their health care provider. And with a focus on holistic health, our residents can choose from a number of activities, classes, and programs that enrich the whole person—mind, body, and spirit.