5 Ways for Seniors to Prevent the Flu
Allison Tsai | Sept 18, 2012
People who are 65 years and older have an increased risk of serious complications from the flu because the immune response weakens with age. Approximately 90 percent of seasonal-flu related deaths, and 60 percent of seasonal-flu related hospitalizations occur in people who are 65 or older. Here are some ways for seniors to avoid getting the flu this season.
Get the flu vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone older than six months should get the seasonal flu vaccine as soon as possible. This is especially true for seniors, due to their increased risk of developing complications.
Know what's in the vaccine
The vaccine protects against three strains of flu virus - H3N2, influenza B and H1N1. Every season the vaccine is updated and since immunity wanes, it’s important to get the vaccine every year. You will develop flu immunity two weeks after receiving the shot.
Choose an option
For seniors, there are two flu vaccination options. The first is the regular dose vaccine that everyone receives. The second is a newer vaccine designed for people older than 65. This is a high dose vaccine that brings on a stronger immune response - though, it is not yet known if the stronger response offers greater protection against the flu.
Wash your hands
Make sure to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes in public unless you’ve just washed your hands.
Seek medical advice quickly at first signs of flu
Antiviral drugs might be necessary for seniors to prevent serious flu complications, and it’s important that antiviral drugs are used early to treat flu in people. Symptoms of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Vomiting and diarrhea may also be present.
Stay six feet away from sneezing and coughing
Follow the six-foot rule that suggests if you are at least six feet away from someone sneezing or coughing you will not be in range of infected droplets flying through the air.