What Seniors Need to Know to Stay Protected This Flu Season
During flu season, you do everything you can to avoid getting sick. You wash your hands, eat healthy foods, and always get your flu shot.
This should be enough to keep you protected, right?
The answer may not be so simple for those aged 65 and over. Not only do seniors have a higher susceptibility to the flu as a result of weakening immune systems, they’re also at a higher risk for complications and hospitalizations once they do contract it. The phenomenon, known as immunosenescence, helps explain why the impact of flu in seniors is so profound with those aged 65 and older accounting for up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations over the last five flu seasons.
Plus, the complications that can result from a senior getting the flu are severe. Not only can influenza worsen chronic conditions like diabetes and cancer, but it can also lead to heart attacks, strokes and death. All this ultimately has a devastating impact on families, communities and the economy at large, and leads to an enormous strain on the Canadian healthcare system.
What’s more, the standard flu vaccine is 50 per cent less effective in adults over the age of 65 than the rest of the population, which means that getting your annual flu shot may not be enough to keep you protected from influenza and its potential implications if you’re a senior.
The good news is with four times as many antigens (the substance that induces the immune response in the body) than the regular flu vaccine, the higher dose flu vaccine is significantly more effective when it comes to protecting seniors from the disease.
Talk to your healthcare provider about the higher dose vaccine and contact your Public Health officials to find out if it’s covered in your province to ensure you’re as protected as possible when flu season hits.
Vaccination does not provide 100% protection and does not treat influenza and / or its complications.