With flu season right around the corner, many seniors are once again left wondering whether or not to get a flu shot. Here, we answer the five most commonly asked questions about the flu vaccine, and whether or not it is the right choice for you.   

Why get vaccinated?

While everyone can get the flu, people over the age of 65 are at higher risk of suffering from complications. These complications can vary from sinus and ear infections to pneumonia to inflammation of the brain, heart, or muscle tissue. And, it has been estimated that over 80% of deaths caused by the flu occur in people over the age of 65. Receiving the flu vaccine drastically lowers these risks.    

How effective is the flu shot ?

The flu vaccine reduces the risk of the flu by over 50%. The flu can be caused by multiple strains of viruses, that vary from season to season. Because of this, flu shots focus on protecting against the most common types of viruses. While it is still possible to contract the flu even after receiving the vaccine, the illness is, generally, much milder. And, people who are vaccinated are at a much lower risk of developing complications.

Can the flu shot give you the flu?

No. But, it can cause mild and temporary flu-like symptoms, such as swelling or soreness (specifically, where the shot was given), low fever, or aches.

When to get the flu shot.

Flu season occurs during the fall and winter, peaking in the months from November through March. Many medical professionals recommend receiving the flu shot before the peak season, during the beginning of fall. This is because the flu vaccine takes two weeks to become fully effective. If given during peak season, there is a chance of contracting the flu either before the vaccine is administered or during the two-week period.   

Is there more than one type of vaccine?  

For seniors, there are two vaccines to choose from: the regular-dose vaccine or the high-dose vaccine. The high-dose vaccine is, specifically, for people over 65, and was shown to be 24.2 % more effective than the normal-dose vaccine. But, the high-dose has been shown to have some side effects (though both temporary and mild). Consult with your doctor before choosing which vaccine to use.

For people suffering from egg allergies, the regular flu shot should not be administered. Flu vaccines are egg-based, and eggless vaccines are available.  

Where to find more information

For more information on the flu vaccine, visit CDC.gov.

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