Flu season is in full swing, and families need to know that for grandparents and older relatives, getting a flu shot doesn’t just help keep them healthy, it helps prevent their spreading the influenza virus to young children, who may be more vulnerable to the potentially serious effects of the flu.
Older adults are particularly susceptible to the flu due to the weakening of the immune system that happens with age. In fact, six out of 10 flu-related hospitalizations and nine out of 10 flu-related deaths occur in adults 65 years of age and older. Despite this, nearly 30 percent of Americans in this age group did not get a flu shot last season, increasing their risk for contracting the disease.
In addition, unvaccinated seniors are more likely to pass the flu on to friends, caregivers or family members, especially while they spend time together indoors during the holidays. Babies under six months of age are particularly susceptible to the flu since they are too young to receive the vaccine themselves, so it is extremely important for grandparents to get a flu shot to help protect the newest additions to the family.
While there are various reasons why some people are reluctant to get a flu shot, common misconceptions are frequently at the heart of the matter. “Every year my mother would argue that she didn’t want a flu shot because she was afraid it would give her the flu,” revealed Jennifer Sacks, a new mom. “Last year I invited her to come and visit her new granddaughter, but I also asked her to speak with her doctor about the flu shot before her trip. He explained that the inactive virus in the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu and that she was posing a risk to her new granddaughter, which convinced her to get vaccinated right away.”
Adults 65 and older should also talk to their healthcare providers about their options for vaccination. This year, adults in this age group have two vaccine options: the traditional flu shot and a higher-dose vaccine that addresses the age-related decline of the immune system by triggering the body to produce more antibodies against the flu. Both vaccines are covered by Medicare Part B with no co-pay.
The National Council on Aging (NCOA) launched the Flu + You campaign this year to help educate older adults about the importance of getting a flu shot and to let them know that it’s not too late to get vaccinated.
“The NCOA knows how important the holidays are to older adults and their families, which is why we are reminding them that getting a flu shot can also help keep their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren healthy as well,” said Richard Birkel, PhD, MPA, Acting Senior Vice President of Healthy Aging, Director of NCOA’s Self-Management Alliance. “The flu is serious, but vaccination is the most effective way to help prevent it. It is an easy step toward having a healthy and happy holiday season.”
For more information on influenza and vaccination or the Flu + You campaign, visit www.NCOA.org/Flu.
Did you know?
Each year in the United States, more than 90 percent of flu-related deaths occur in adults age 65 and older.
As we age, our immune system weakens, making adults 65 and older more vulnerable to influenza and its complications.
Adults 65 and older have two vaccine options – the traditional flu shot and a higher dose flu shot designed to help address the age-related weakening of the immune system.
Both the traditional and higher dose vaccines are covered by Medicare Part B with no copay for people 65 and older.
Don’t let grandma and grandpa spread the #flu this holiday season – make sure they get a flu shot! Visit NCOA.org/flu for more info.
Nearly 30% of Americans 65+ didn’t get a #flu shot last season. Help keep older family members healthy during the holidays. Visit NCOA/org/flu.
This holiday season, family members of all generations will gather together to celebrate and spread cheer… but that might not be the only thing they are spreading.
Flu season is in full swing, and families need to know that for grandparents and older relatives, getting a flu shot doesn’t just help keep them healthy, it helps prevent spreading of the influenza virus to young children, who may be more vulnerable to the potentially serious effects of the flu.
Visit www.NCOA.org/Flu for more information on the flu and vaccination for adults 65 and older.
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