GUEST BLOG / From Medicare.gov--People 65 years and older are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications compared with young, healthy adults. This increased risk is due in part to changes in immune defenses with increasing age.
While flu seasons 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 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in this age group.
A Flu Vaccine is the Best Protection vs. Flu
The best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications is with a flu vaccine. CDC recommends that almost everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year, ideally by the end of October. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue throughout flu season, even into January or later.
Flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. Flu vaccines are updated each season to keep up with changing viruses. Also, immunity wanes over a year so annual vaccination is needed to ensure the best possible protection against flu.
Because immunity may decrease more quickly in older people, it is especially important that this group is not vaccinated too early (in July or August). September and October are generally good times to be vaccinated for people 65 years and older.
A flu vaccine protects against the flu viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. Flu vaccines for 2021-2022 have been updated from last season’s vaccine to better match circulating viruses. Immunity from vaccination fully sets in after about two weeks.
Because of age-related changes in their immune systems, people 65 years and older may not respond as well to vaccination as younger people. Although immune responses may be lower in older people, studies external have consistently found that flu vaccine has been effective in reducing the risk of medical visits and hospitalizations associated with flu.
For flu shots see your primary doctor or visit local pharmacies offering free flu shots.