Seniors and the Flu Vaccine: What you Need to Know

elderly African American woman getting flu vaccine

Many people in elderly care services wonder whether or not they should get the annual flu vaccine. Some people fear side effects from the vaccine, while others are concerned about the efficacy of the vaccine itself. These concerns are understandable, but the CDC recommends that everyone who is able to get the flu vaccine should do so as soon as possible. Usually by the end of October. This is especially true for seniors, as they represent the group most responsible for hospitalizations and deaths from the flu.

The flu vaccine has also been shown to prevent those who are exposed to the virus from spreading it. This is especially valuable for those who receive home care assistance. As the vaccine helps protect the caregiver as well.

Common Questions From Senior Care

Because there is so much confusion and spotty information about vaccines; we’ve answered a few basic questions about the flu vaccine below.

Where can Seniors in Home Care get the Flu vaccine?

You can use Vaccine Finder to find out where to get your flu shot.

As a Senior in Elderly Care, should I get the flu vaccine?

This is an easy one. The CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get the vaccine, with a few rare exceptions. If you aren’t over the age of 6 months; chances are you’re not reading this anyway. However, everyone should talk to their doctor about getting the flu shot. Just don’t be surprised if they answer with a very loud and emphatic “Yes!”

Will the Flu Vaccine Keep Seniors in Home Care From Getting COVID-19?

Not directly. Influenza is a different disease than COVID-19; and caused by different viruses. But getting the flu can weaken your immune system enough to make you more susceptible to the coronavirus. Also, hospitals and medical facilities are already running at or near full capacity handling COVID-19 patients. And the flu generally hospitalizes hundreds of thousands of patients per year. If you don’t like being in a hospital room, you certainly won’t like being in the hospital storage closet.

Which Flu Vaccine Should Seniors in Home Care Get?

There are multiple versions of the annual flu vaccine. And of course you should get the one that your doctor or medical professional recommends. The most common vaccines are trivalent. Meaning they protect against three different strains of the flu. And some are quadrivalent, meaning they protect against four different strains. There are also high dose vaccines; only approved for those over the age of 65. As we get older, our immune system may need more vaccine in order to develop protection against the flu virus. Some vaccines are made with adjuvants; which are additives that help promote a better immune response. Also only approved for people over 65. Again, discuss which vaccine to get with your doctor or medical professional. Not only do they know these vaccines better than we do, they know you better as well.

I’ve heard the vaccine is only 40% effective in elderly care.

That’s mostly true. It’s important to note even at 40%, that’s hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations avoided; and thousands of deaths prevented. And overall effectiveness ranges from 40% to 60%. Each year, the flu vaccine is altered to protect against what are expected to be that year’s most common strains of the flu. While every effort is made to pick the right strains of the flu; there are years where that educated guess is better than others. And because receiving even an poorly matched vaccine may reduce the severity of illness among those who do get the flu. It is estimated that getting the vaccine reduces Intensive Care admissions by as much as 82%.

It’s also important to remember that these are estimates, and it is impossible to know precisely how many people are protected each year.

My elderly relative in home care is allergic to eggs, and I’ve heard that means they can’t get the flu shot. Is that true?

Not necessarily. Those with egg allergies, as well as those with Guillain-Barre Syndrome should discuss the flu vaccine with their medical provider before receiving the flu vaccine. However, those with these conditions may still be able to be vaccinated.

I’m a Senior living at home, and I’m staying home all the time anyway thanks to COVID. Do I still need to get a flu shot?

While isolating from others can be an effective way of keeping the flu away, it’s even more effective to do so after receiving a flu vaccine. Especially for those seniors with an in-home caregiver. Also, because the vaccine can help prevent you from spreading the virus to others, you won’t have to worry about infecting your neighbor who leaves their Christmas lights up until March when you go outside to ask them to please take them down already.

Home Care Powered By AUAF can help you prevent the flu

Whether it’s helping you or your elderly loved one with personal care to get ready to go get your flu shot, setting up reminders to get your shot, or helping you stay home with meal preparation assistance, we’re here to help. You can Contact Us or call us at 773-274-9262 to find out more about how Home Care Powered by AUAF can help you and your elderly loved ones.

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