What You Should Know and Do this Flu Season If You Are 65 Years and Older

October 8, 2017

It has been recognized for many years that people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu compared with young, healthy adults because human immune defenses become weaker with age. While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In recent years, for example, it’s estimated that between 71 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group. So influenza is often quite serious for people 65 and older.

Actions To Take This Flu Season:

Get Your Flu Shot

The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu shot. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year by the end of October if possible. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even in January or later.Vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at high risk for complications from flu. Flu vaccines are often updated each season to keep up with changing viruses and also immunity wanes over a year so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against influenza.A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. (See Vaccine Virus Selection(https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/vaccine-selection.htm) for this season’s exact vaccine composition.)

The 2016-2017 vaccine has been updated from last season’s vaccine to better match circulating viruses. Immunity from vaccination sets in after about two weeks.People 65 years and older can get any injectable vaccine (flu shot) that is approved for use in that age group. This includes cell-based, recombinant and flu shots made using traditional egg-based manufacturing processes(https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/how-fluvaccine-made.htm#egg-based).