The flu is nothing to sneeze at. According to the CDC, approximately 200,000 people will be hospitalized this year with the influenza virus, and it has been estimated that 50-70 percent of those hospitalized are people ages 65 and older. Yes, you heard that right. Over half of those hospitalized with the flu virus this year will be ages 65 and older. Of the total number of people hospitalized, 80-90 percent of flu related deaths are senior adults.
Why Are Seniors More Susceptible?
Even the healthiest person can be knocked down by the flu virus. Seniors are especially susceptible due to a weakened immune system and the potential for complications. Human immune defenses weaken with age, and the elderly have less physical strength to fight the flu. Pre-existing chronic illnesses may also pose a significant risk for complications. If someone with a weakened immune system and a condition such as heart failure, breathing problems, or diabetes falls victim to the flu, they are much less likely to be able to fight the illness with a positive outcome.
In addition to being more vulnerable to contracting the Influenza virus, people over 65 are also more likely to develop serious complications as a result of the flu. These complications, including a primary viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia, often lead to hospitalization and can prove to be deadly. In fact, the flu is the fourth leading cause of death in seniors ages 65 and older.
Senior Flu Shots: How Can Seniors Protect Themselves?
Get a flu shot from Trinity Medical Group, the leading primary care facility in Polk County. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year. One study showed a 77 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations in those aged 50 and older with the administration of the flu shot. Those 65 and older have the option to receive a regular-dose vaccine or a higher-dose vaccine of the flu shot. Although the CDC hasn’t expressed a preference for the high-dose vaccine, preliminary studies show that it may be about 24 percent more effective in preventing the flu in people ages 65 and older.
Treat flu symptoms early. It is recommended that high-risk populations, such as those under 2 years old or over 65 years old, treat flu symptoms early by taking antiviral drugs. While there is no cure for the flu, drugs such as Tamiflu or Relenza can shorten the duration of symptoms and may help avoid complications. One of our convenient primary care facilities are available to prescribe this to those who meet the requirements and display the symptoms of the flu.
Ask loved ones to get a flu shot. While healthy adults may be able to fight the flu, they may unknowingly pass the virus on to someone who is less able to bounce back. The flu is extremely contagious, and it can be transmitted before symptoms start to show.
Practice good hygiene! Never underestimate the power of frequent hand washing and covering your cough or sneeze.
Most seasonal flu activity happens between October and May, with the seasonal flu peaking in January and February. At Trinity Medical Group, we are committed to protecting you and your family from the flu with flu shots. Contact us to request an appointment to receive your flu shot, and reach out to us right away if you are experiencing symptoms.