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Why Flu Shots Are Especially Important for Seniors

It’s almost flu season again, and signs are popping up all over Kansas City, Overland Park, and Prairie Village reminding you it’s time for your annual flu shot. But how important is that flu shot really?

Flu shots are the number one method of preventing the flu. And it turns out the flu can be pretty dangerous if you’re over the age of 65. Every year in the U.S., as many as 700,000 people end up in the hospital from the flu and related complications. Most of those people are seniors. That’s because as you age, your immune system gets weaker, making it more difficult for you to fight off infection.

What About Caregivers?

If you’re caring for someone who’s over the age of 65, you also need to get an annual flu shot. If you don’t and you get sick, you’re putting that person at risk even if he or she has been immunized.

And if you’re charged with caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, it’s important to make sure that person gets a flu shot, too.

What if the Flu Shot Makes Me Sick?

It seems a lot of people are still concerned about getting the flu from a flu shot, but that’s simply not possible. The reason being that the flu vaccine is made from an “inactivated” virus, which means there’s no way it can make you sick.

Then why do some people get sick right after they get a flu shot? Flu shots don’t start working until a week or two after you get them. So if you get a flu shot and end up with the flu a few days later, the shot hadn’t yet had time to become effective. So you actually caught the virus somewhere else. That’s why it’s important to get your flu shot early. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s okay to get the shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available, and it’s best to get it by the end of October. But you shouldn’t skip it if you happen to miss the October deadline. Even though flu season begins in early October, it lasts throughout the winter, and sometimes even into spring.

Where Can I get a Flu Shot?

To get your flu shot, make an appointment with your home care nurse or doctor’s office. You can also get one at most CVS or Walgreens stores. They normally posts signs out front to let you know when the vaccine is available.

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