Stethoscope and blood pressure cuff.

Flu Season When You Are Age 65 or Over

By Emilee Evans, Legal Intern

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the peak of flu season occurs between November and March. In consideration of the upcoming season, the first step to preventing the flu would be to get your flu shot. Other common preventative methods include practicing good health habits such as: regularly washing your hands (especially after coughing, sneezing, or touching things such as public doorknobs or railings), and avoiding people who are sick. The flu can be scary for those ages 65 years and older. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that between 71-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths, and 53-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations, occur among citizens 65 years of age and older. As we age, our immune systems age too, making it much more difficult to fight off viruses, disease, and other chronic illnesses.

Flu shots are commonly available at retail pharmacies such as: Rite Aid, Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and Kroger. The SeniorCaring website explains that if a senior is covered under Medicare Part B, flu shots are free if a Medicare provider gives the shot. If you are not covered under Medicare Part B, however, and are covered with insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the services should be at no cost because they are a preventative service. Otherwise, many of the retail pharmacies listed above will offer flu shots with prices ranging from around $15 to $40, depending on the flu vaccine. The SeniorCaring website goes on to explain that if adults over the age of 65 are in good health, they may also want to consider both getting a flu and pneumonia vaccine. There are other options including high-dose flu vaccines that are available for seniors over the age of 65, which may greatly improve the chances of having a flu-free season. According to the Fluzone Influenza Vaccine website, consulting your primary physician is a good idea when considering this option. More information can also be found regarding a high-dose flu vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Once the flu is contracted, however, there are not many ways to cure it besides drinking fluids and resting. Among the age group for those 65 and older, if you begin to feel flu symptoms (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea), you should see your primary physician immediately. Because of this, taking preventative action is important in order to protect yourself against the flu. Also, as noted by several sources: FluMist and other nasal spray vaccines are not recommended for adults over the age of 49. The intradermal flu shot or the injected flu vaccine are not recommended for those over the age of 65. Enjoy the holiday season without having a season of the flu.

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