Fall is well underway, which means it’s flu season once more. A few years ago, we shared a piece discussing why seniors should get the flu shot every year. Since then, some of the information has changed, so here’s all the most up-to-date info on seniors’ health and the flu shot.
Flu Shots Save Lives
Influenza — commonly called “the flu” — is particularly dangerous to anyone with a weakened immune system. As we age, our immune systems naturally decrease, leaving us open to more severe cases of the flu and putting us at risk of potentially life-threatening secondary infections, like pneumonia. Actions like frequent hand washing and avoiding contact with those with the flu are helpful in preventing infection, but the single best way to protect yourself (and those close to you) is to get the flu vaccine every year.
Different Type of Flu Vaccines
While most people know about the standard flu shot, many don’t realize that there are actually two types of flu vaccine available in Canada. Many provinces introduced a new high-dose flu shot for 2018. The high-dose version is recommended for seniors over 65 because it offers greater protection, more moderate symptoms if you do pick up the flu, and a significant reduction in seniors’ influenza-related deaths. It’s been available in the US for over five years and is finally available here in Canada.
Should I Get the Flu Shot?
There is still a lot of wariness about vaccines in general. The best person to ask about the potential risks associated with the flu shot is your medical care provider, as they know you and your health best. However, to dispel a few myths, the flu vaccine does not “give you the flu” or contain any toxic chemicals that could put your health at risk. These vaccines are safe and effective.
How Do I Get Vaccinated?
Getting the flu vaccine is easy and convenient. It’s available at any pharmacy, clinic, or medical facility. All you need is a provincial health card and a few minutes; it’s that easy to protect seniors’ health.
Do I Need to Get It Every Year?
Yes. Unlike most standard vaccines that offer long-term immunity, it’s essential to get the updated flu vaccine every year. Because the flu is such a rapidly evolving virus, it can outsmart last year’s vaccine, leaving you open to catching this year’s strand. Don’t take chances with seniors’ health.
Remember that vaccines only work properly when most people are protected. There are plenty of people (especially the particularly young or elderly and those battling other illnesses) who cannot get vaccinated and who rely on others to be immune and therefore unable to pass the disease along to them. If you work with seniors or have elderly loved ones, you can help protect them by getting the flu shot this year.
Have you got your flu shot yet? Still asking yourself “Should I get the flu shot?” Share your thoughts in the comments below.