This afternoon I was reading an article about the rising flu-related deaths among the young, and the article stated that it wasn’t too late to get a flu shot as there was still a month to go in the flu season. The 18 to 64 age group were especially hit, although a growing number of children and teens have died due to complications of the flu.
So, it got me wondering why the elderly didn’t seem to be as strongly hit as the younger people this year. I read about a half dozen articles today and while they don’t always agree on everything, I got a gist of why we elders seem to be handling this season better than those younger than us.
- Younger adults and children aren’t seen as needing the flu vaccine as much as the elderly. Many parents don’t bother getting flu shots for their children or even for themselves.
- The past several years there has been a strong push toward seniors getting their flu shots. I know whenever my dad or I went to the doctor’s office in the fall the doctor and nurse strongly suggested we get the shot. What really encouraged the elderly to go ahead was that seniors who have Medicare Part B get their flu injections for free.
- When people get the flu shot or have the flu they develop a residual immunity from that particular strain of the flu. For example, most flu cases this year (2013-2014) have been from the Swine flu. Most of us will remember how hard we got hit with the Swine flu in 2009. Now, those who either had the flu or received the flu shot that year more than likely have immunity to this year’s strain that others may not – especially the young.
- Flu shots don’t always guarantee you will stay healthy. They work about fifty percent of the time. But, you are at least making an attempt to ward off the flu and it is better than not getting immunized at all.
- Many times seniors get bronchitis and/or pneumonia complications from the flu. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 90 percent of the hospitalizations that are flu-related and 60 percent of the deaths are age 65 and older.
Side effects of receiving a flu vaccination include:
- Soreness at injection site
- Low-grade aches and pains
- Low-grade fever
Do not take the flu shot if you are already ill. Following a healthy diet plan can help ward off illness. Some believe taking Vitamin D also helps protect seniors from illness.
You can read more about the flu and the risk for seniors at: