With COVID-19 taking up so much of our healthcare dialogue, it’s easy to overlook another pressing threat: influenza, aka the flu. National Influenza Vaccination Week — observed December 5-9 — is a critical time for seniors. Did you know that people over 65 are much more likely to become seriously ill from the flu than younger people? It’s true. According to the National Foundation for Infectious diseases, “[o]lder adults are at higher risk of serious flu and flu-related complications including pneumonia and hospitalization.” But the risk doesn’t end there.
Flu increases a senior’s heart attack risk by three to five times in the first two weeks after infection. A senior’s stroke risk also rises by two to three times during the same period. To make matters worse, these risks remain elevated for months after infection. Taken together, seniors are six times more likely to die from the flu than their younger counterparts. This data underscores how important it is for seniors to make plans to get their vaccinations.
Judging This Year’s Flu Risk
The last two flu seasons have been mild, thanks partly to COVID-19 precautions like mask-wearing and physical distancing. Now that many of those practices have ended, experts predict the 2022-2023 flu season will be severe. Cases typically begin to tick up in October and are at their highest between December and February. That’s why health experts recommend seniors get vaccinated in September and October. That way they’ll achieve complete protection before flu cases start to rise. But don’t worry. If you have yet to receive your flu vaccine, there’s still time. Data shows that vaccines can still protect seniors during the peak flu season even if they receive them a little late. So if you’re a senior who still needs to schedule their shot, National Influenza Vaccination Week could be the perfect opportunity.
Available Flu Vaccines for Seniors
Seniors have several options when choosing their flu vaccine:
- Standard-dose flu shot: Available as a shot or nasal mist, this vaccine is approved for people as young as six months.
- Cell-based flu shot: This vaccine contains a virus grown in a cell culture.
- Recombinant flu shot: This high-dose vaccine uses recombinant technology to offer three times the antigen than a standard-dose flu shot.
- High-dose flu shot: Another high-dose vaccine that offers four times the antigen than a standard-dose shot.
- Adjuvanted flu shot: This option uses an adjuvant to create a more robust immune response.
- Live attenuated flu nasal spray vaccine: this nasal spray vaccine uses weakened live flu viruses to create an immune response and is approved for people aged 2-49 years.
Because of the projected severity of this flu season, doctors recommend seniors opt for specific vaccinations. These include the high-dose flu shot, adjuvanted flu shot, or recombinant flu shot. However, if these shots aren’t available, seniors should take whatever vaccine they can. Talk to your doctor before National Influenza Vaccination Week begins to learn what shots are available in your area.
Caregivers Help Seniors Avoid Flu Infections
Obtaining a flu vaccine can be more challenging for seniors than younger people. Many are housebound because they no longer drive, and others suffer from mobility issues that make using public transportation impossible. These limitations often leave seniors reliant on others to get necessary medical care. Fortunately, in-home caregivers are a valuable resource for housebound seniors. Not only can a caregiver transport their senior clients to and from important medical appointments, but they’re also available to monitor health symptoms for signs of the flu. Monitoring is essential because seniors who receive antivirals like Tamiflu early in their illness are less likely to suffer severe complications than those that don’t. During flu season and beyond, caregivers offer seniors valuable support and companionship that helps them lead healthier and happier lives.
Maintaining your vigilance against the flu is critical for seniors across the country. Don’t let National Influenza Vaccination Week pass without ensuring you’re protected against this serious disease.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care’s personalized in-home care and support services can help you find the best ways to understand your loved one’s healthcare and develop strategies to keep track of their doctor’s care plan. We assist those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.