Senior Alternatives

Care Management and Home Care Services
Flu Shot

October 21, 2020

Each year, 63% of adults in the US get a flu vaccine to prevent influenza, a respiratory virus that causes fever, cough, and runny nose. Sometimes it makes seniors ill enough to need home care services from a caregiver. The flu vaccine works well for younger people but seniors may need specialized vaccines to get the same protection since they are at greater risk of developing serious complications from the flu, like pneumonia. When seniors get sick, home care is often needed. It’s possible for family members to assist with caregiving, but home care agencies also can fill that role since they are experts at providing services to seniors.

Again, getting a standard flu shot is helpful for people over 65 because it reduces the risk of developing a severe infection that could lead to hospitalization and the need for in-home care.

The flu shot is 46% effective for this year’s 2020 flu season. If a normal flu shot is all that’s available, it’s better than no flu shot at all. However, a normal flu shot may not be as effective for seniors. That’s why there are other flu shots designed specifically for people over 65. Preventing the need for care at home and hiring caregivers is so much better than having to hire a senior helper at the last minute.

There are two types of vaccines that the CDC recommends for people over 65: the high dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine. If your senior lives in a memory care or assisted living facility, their caregivers can take them to get the flu shot. The high dose flu vaccine has 4 times as many antigens as a regular flu shot, so even if your immune system has a weaker reaction, having more virus particles present helps your body create more antibodies — ideally enough to protect you from infection.

Another vaccine designed for seniors is the adjuvanted flu vaccine. An adjuvant is a substance that increases your body’s reaction to virus proteins. Because this vaccine spikes your immune response, it may also have more side effects than the standard vaccine, including irritation at the injection site, muscle aches, and headache. If you find that the side effects are strong, you may want to consider senior assistance. However, the vaccine offers great protection for seniors, which means they may not need home care..

The bottom line: getting any flu shot is helpful for seniors, but the high dose and adjuvanted flu shots are the best option to guard against illness and hospitalization, then the need for care at home or other elderly assistance. There is also little risk involved with getting the flu vaccine. The CDC recommends that any adult can get the flu vaccine unless you have a severe allergy to one of the ingredients, like gelatin or certain antibiotics. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out the best option.

 

There are two types of vaccines that the CDC recommends for people over 65: the high dose flu vaccine and the adjuvanted flu vaccine.  Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out the best option for you.

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