Once again, the flu season is quickly approaching. And once again people are asking themselves if they should get the flu shot. Whether a person should get the flu shot is just as important as why someone should get the flu shot. This viral respiratory infection can be particularly dangerous for older individuals who experience changes in their immune defenses that come with the aging process. A weakened immune system makes it harder for your body to defend against and fight off an influenza infection. Here are the main points to consider when thinking about getting this year’s flu shot.
Who Should Get the Flu Shot
Ideally, everyone over the age of 6 months who is medically qualified should get the flu shot. But the flu shot is an important defense against infection for those people 65 years of age and older. This is because of age-related weakened immune systems. Additionally, there are some people who may not be able to get the flu shot due to allergic reactions to some of the vaccine ingredients or who have Guillain-Barre syndrome. These individuals need to consult with their health care providers for guidance on how to defend themselves against the flu.
Why You Should Get the Flu Shot
Getting a flu shot is the number one way for seniors to reduce their risk of contracting the contagious flu and having to deal with any of its potential complications. There are serious secondary infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that can materialize if you get the flu. The flu shot also becomes even more important while the coronavirus and its variants are still very active in the United States.
What Flu Vaccinations are Available for Seniors
Because there is more than one type of flu shot developed for seniors, it is best to ask your personal health care provider which vaccination is the best for your personal health condition. The two most popular vaccinations for seniors are the high-dose and adjuvanted flu shots. Regardless of the vaccination form you decide to get, there is a Medicare coverage for flu shot if you have Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage policy.
High-Dose Flu Shot: This is an injection form of the vaccine, and it protects against the H1N1, the H3N2, and the Influenza B strains of the flu. The function of the vaccine is to encourage your body to produce the essential antibodies that will work to reduce the risk of infection and to defend against getting the virus.
Adjuvanted Flu Shot: FLUAD is the trade name for the vaccine that contains adjuvant and is specifically created for senior citizens. This is another form of the high-dose flu shot that contains the ingredient adjuvant and it works against the same three flu strains as the high-dose flu shot. FLUAD encourages your body to develop a strong defensive immune response to the influenza.
When You Should Get the Flu Shot
While it is possible to get the flu at any time, the seasonal times when the flu is more prevalent are during the fall and winter months. Typically, the flu season stretches from October through February and March. Because it takes approximately two weeks for your body to develop the defensive antibodies to reduce your risk for the flu, you want to get the flu shot early in October. But, if you do catch the flu, getting a vaccination will lessen the effects of the flu. If you have Medicare Part B or have a Medicare Advantage policy, you will not have to pay for the vaccination because there is full Medicare coverage for flu shot.
Where You Should Get the Flu Shot
The flu shot is available at most pharmacies, medical clinics, and healthcare offices. Most places allow for walk-in vaccinations, but because so many people are still getting their COVID-19 vaccines at the same locations, some locations require that you call ahead to schedule an appointment. Check with your place of choice before going there for the flu shot.
Because the flu is contagious and its strains change from year to year, you need to get an annual flu shot to help you and your loved ones minimize the chance of being infected. With Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage policy, there is no cost for the vaccine because there is full Medicare coverage for flu shot. It is also safe to get both the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. Yes, you may have a sore arm for a day or two, but the beneficial protection is worth the minor ache. Remember that with the protection of the flu shot you are helping yourself to maintain your overall wellbeing.