Too few adults age 65+ are getting flu shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The consequences could be dire and include serious health issues, hospitalization and even death.
Many adults ages 65 and older believe that, having reached older adulthood, they no longer need vaccines, including a flu shot.
Some doubt it will help them. Others think the flu shot actually can give them the flu. Some simply have never overcome a fear of needles.
And then there is confusion about which type of seasonal flu vaccine to get — the regular one or a newer, stronger version designed to create a stronger immune response and approved for use in older adults.
For all of these reasons, too few adults age 65+ are getting flu shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The consequences could be dire and include serious health issues, hospitalization and even death.
Between 70 percent and 85 percent of flu-related deaths occurred in people over age 65, according to the CDC.
Influenza among the top 10 causes of death in adults
The flu shot is made with a dead influenza virus that prompts your body to develop antibodies against flu infection, according to Paul Schulz, M.D., system epidemiologist, Norton Healthcare.
“It’s simple: These vaccinations protect your health. Influenza, like pneumonia, is among the top 10 causes of adult death in the U.S.,” he said.
Flu vaccinations also protect the health of our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors. Protecting yourself against the highly contagious flu virus reduces the chance of getting sick and spreading germs that may make others around you sick.
In addition to getting a flu shot, practice good health and hygiene habits to help prevent the spread of the flu:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand wipes or gel sanitizers.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth — places where the virus enters the body. People leave germs on objects they touch. If you touch an infected object then touch your face, you can get the virus.
- Avoid being in close contact with sick people. If you are sick, stay away from others.