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2011 – 2012 Flu Riskier for Seniors

By on January 31st, 2012
Filed: Advice, Caregivers, Children, Consumers, Disabled, Early Retirees, Families, Self-Employed, Seniors, Small Business Owners, Unemployed, Uninsured, Women, Young Adults

It seems like every year we hear about the Bird Flu and H1N1. This year it’s H5N1, which is supposed to make the flu more easily transferable to people. It can be easy to get freaked out about the flu and harder to separate fact from fiction or media hype.

What I know for a fact is that my kids, my wife and my parents have all had flu like symptoms this year and subsequently gotten a flu shot. The smartest thing to do in order to protect oneself is get a flu shot. If you’ve got health insurance, either from an employer, on your own or through Medicare, your insurer should be able to tell you where to go for your shot.

I have not gotten a flu shot…  (I also have not gotten sick, thank goodness), but I will make an appointment this week.

I’m more concerned frankly about my mom, who is 66, and has been fighting a nasty cough for several weeks now. According to Flu.gov, a person’s immune system weakens as they age, and people 65 and older are more susceptible to the flu.

This weakened immunity is one reason why “Fluzone High-Dose,” a new influenza vaccine was created. It’s targeted specifically for seniors, 65 and older. Some people are concerned about the new vaccine, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reassured seniors that Fluzone is just as safe as regular seasonal flu vaccines.

Regardless of which type of vaccine you get, or where you get it, the government continues to encourage people (particularly seniors and children) to get the flu vaccine every year for their own safety.

To that end, I stole a list of tips for seniors from the flu.gov web site:

  • You have two options for vaccination: the regular dose flu shot and the high-dose shot that results in a stronger immune response. Talk to your health care provider to decide which one is right for you.
  • If you have flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately.
  • Since you are at high risk for flu-related complications, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications if you get the flu.

If you want the “Cliff Notes” on how to protect yourself from the flu, here you go: 

Talk to your doctor before you get vaccinated. If they encourage you to get the vaccine, do it as quickly as possible.

Find out when it’s available in your area so you can protect yourself and prevent the spread of the flu to your spouse, children, or grandchildren.

There are two ways to get vaccinated

-       Get the regular dose flu shot

-       Get the higher-dose flu shot (Fluzone)

Again, Fluzone was designed for people ages 65 and older, but both vaccines protect against the same three flu viruses. The goal of using the higher-dose vaccine is to get a stronger response from the immune system. Again, your doctor can tell you which vaccine is best for you.

It’s also a good idea to follow these steps in order to keep yourself healthy this flu season.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Practice good health habits. Get plenty of sleep and exercise, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy food.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.

For more information on how to protect yourself from the flu visit Flu.gov

About Nate Purpura


Nate Purpura is a 15-year veteran of print and broadcast journalism, corporate communications, PR and internet marketing. He’s spent the last decade working in the health care and insurance industries. Over fifteen years he’s covered numerous areas of health care including pharmaceuticals, health and wellness programs, chronic disease management programs, cutting-edge diagnostic tools, Medicare and health insurance, and online marketplaces (exchanges).

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