Kim Elliott, RN, Expert on Healthy Aging

Contact Kim
18 October 2019

At Brookdale, we invest in the wellness of our residents, and vaccinations are an essential part of that preventive care. As part of our commitment to building healthier communities, Brookdale partnered with CVS Pharmacy to open flu clinics in every Brookdale community to offer flu shots for our residents, their families and our associates.

Instead of just responding to illnesses or conditions with post-acute care, we want to offer more proactive options to help our residents live well and age well.

Here are the top three reasons why you should get your flu shot:

1. You can avoid serious complications associated with the flu, especially in older adults.

Our immune systems naturally tend to weaken over time. That’s why an annual flu shot is a must-have for older adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people 65 and older account for more than 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations and between 70 and 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths.

Getting your flu vaccination is especially important if you are 65 years or older because you’re at a higher risk of developing serious flu complications. Flu vaccines are updated each season to keep up with changing viruses. To get the best protection, you need an annual vaccination.

According to a 2017 report by the CDC, about 30 percent of adults 65 years and older skipped their flu shot in 2016. But skipping your shot is taking an unnecessary risk with your health and those around you. That’s why we make it as easy for our residents and those who visit them, like friends and family, to get a flu shot at one of our community clinics.

And starting this year, in addition to the flu shot, our community clinics offer vaccinations for shingles, pneumonia and the Tdap booster to both residents and associates, which round out the four vaccines I recommend every senior consider.

2. Flu shots really are effective.

The Flu vaccine is proven to reduce not only flu illnesses but also more serious flu outcomes that can result in hospitalization or even death in older people.  A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, the length of stay in ICU and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients and people 65 years of age and older benefitted the most.

Maybe you’ve heard about different flu vaccination options? If so, you may be wondering which one is right for you.  While you should talk with your healthcare provider about the best choice for you, here’s an overview of your options if you’re age 65 and older.

First, people 65 years and older should get a flu shot and not the nasal spray vaccine. In addition to the regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 and older, there are two more flu vaccines specifically designed for people 65 and older that may improve your chances of avoiding the flu:

High dose flu vaccine

Family members often have questions about “high dose” vaccines for their mom or dad. They’re concerned because they think the vaccine has a higher dose of the virus in it, which could be dangerous for older adults with weaker immune systems.

Actually, “high dose” really means the vaccine has four times the amount of antigen—the part of the vaccine that promotes antibody creation within the body—which helps the body’s immune system respond better to the vaccine.

Results from a clinical trial that included more than 30,000 people showed that the high dose flu vaccine is 24 percent more effective in preventing the flu in people age of 65 and older, relative to a standard-dose vaccine.

Adjuvanted flu vaccine

The adjuvanted flu vaccine (brand name Fluad) is made with MF59 adjuvant, an additive that creates a stronger immune response to the vaccination. In a Canadian study of people age 65 and older, researchers found that Fluad was 63 percent more effective than regular-dose flu shots without adjuvant. However, to date, there have been no studies to compare the effectiveness of Fluad with the high-dose flu vaccine (brand name Fluzone). 

3.  You can help keep your family safe and healthy, especially older adults.

Not only are you protecting yourself when you get the flu shot, but you’re also protecting friends and family, too, by preventing the spread of the virus. Flu season usually runs from November to March, so the best time to get vaccinated and give your body time to build up antibodies is by the end of October.

In addition to getting the flu shot, people 65 years and older should take the same preventive measures that the CDC recommends for everyone: cover your cough, wash your hands often and when possible, avoid people who are sick.

Think of the flu shot as an investment in your wellness and the wellness of those around you, especially seniors in your life. It’s preventive care that helps you stay healthier.

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