Because seniors live with an increased risk of coming down with the flu and suffering more severe complications from the virus, it’s very important to get vaccinated ahead of flu season.
As the weather transitions from pleasant to cool to downright frigid in many parts of the country, our immune systems become less able to protect our bodies from the pernicious flu virus. Thousands of people die in the United States from the flu, and people 65 and older are especially vulnerable.
Luckily, you can prevent infection this year with an annual flu shot, which is strongly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and covered by Medicare.
Your doctor or medical professional should recommend the right flu shot for you depending on factors such as your health, age, and preferences.
The CDC recommends that you tell the person who gives you the vaccine:
1. If you have any severe, life-threatening allergies. If you ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction after a dose of flu vaccine, or have a severe allergy to any part of this vaccine, including (for example) an allergy to gelatin, antibiotics, or eggs, you may be advised not to get vaccinated. Most, but not all, types of flu vaccine contain a small amount of egg protein.
2. If you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS). Some people with a history of GBS should not get this vaccine. This should be discussed with your doctor.
3. If you are not feeling well. It is usually okay to get flu vaccine when you have a mild illness, but you might be advised to wait until you feel better. You should come back when you are better.
It’s important to get your flu shot in the fall because it usually takes about two weeks for your immune system to develop its protection to the flu virus after the shot, and the protection lasts several months to a year.
For more information, read this informational flyer provided by the CDC.
To locate a vaccination site that offers flu shots, visit vaccines.gov and type in your ZIP code. If you’re a Medicare beneficiary, Part B will cover 100 percent of the costs of any flu shot, as long as your doctor, health clinic, or pharmacy agrees not to charge you more than Medicare pays. Private health insurers are also required to cover standard flu shots. However, you’ll need to check with your provider to see if they cover the other vaccination options.
We recommend you get your flu shot as soon as possible so that you can enjoy a healthy winter season!