It’s that time again… a flu shot for everyone!
by Gail Arno, CMC, ECM Director of Care Management
As Aging Life Care Managers, it is our responsibility to take care of our clients’ medical, physical, emotional, and social needs. At this time of the year, we are particularly focused on making sure that our clients consider the benefits of receiving a flu shot. We are encouraging and facilitating this effort as we recognize the significant potential health risk our clients face without this added protection.
Flu shot availability began appearing at pharmacies and doctors’ offices this summer, but when it comes to getting the shot, earlier isn’t always better. The prevailing guidance is to get the flu vaccine between mid-September and the end of October. The timing of the flu shot is important because the immunity conferred by the flu shot wanes over time, particularly for those who get the vaccine in August. Receiving a flu shot too early could mean losing the protection the vaccine offers while the 2020-2021 flu season is still in full swing. Experts aren’t able to predict how long a given flu season will last, but they do feel the season typically peaks between December and February and can even last as late as into May.
Individuals age 65 and older should ask their health care provider for either the high-dose or adjuvanted flu vaccine. Both of these produce a stronger immune response and, therefore, offer greater protection against the flu. This year, the high-dose vaccine offers added protection as it is quadrivalent, meaning it protects against four strains of the flu instead of the standard three (trivalent). Remember, it takes two weeks following the flu shot to develop immunity, which wanes faster in older adults than in younger people. Receiving the vaccine will not guarantee that you won’t catch the flu, but it can reduce symptoms and lower your risk of complications.
This season we anticipate a double-barreled respiratory virus season – a “twindemic” as many are calling it. This is something none of us want to consider or face. The flu shot will not only prevent many cases of influenza but may also increase the likelihood of a mild disease experience if a vaccinated person still contracts the flu. With the added protection of the flu vaccine, it is less likely you will end up in the hospital, taking the strain off the medical care system so medically challenged patients can be cared for more appropriately.
As Care Managers, we are always striving to keep our clients healthy and to protect them from the natural health complications that come with aging. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we believe that ensuring that all of our clients receive a flu vaccine is one the most important tasks that we can do to support the general health of our clients. We recommend everyone do the same to protect themselves and others during the upcoming flu season.