Flu season is almost here, and that means it’s time to start making vaccination plans. Complications from the flu are dangerous for everyone, but they can have particularly damaging effects for older adults. Seniors are at the highest risk for flu-related deaths, and tend to have a poor immune response against the disease. The CDC recommends vaccination as the first and most important step in preventing transmission of the flu. Now, there’s a new flu vaccine with a higher dose for seniors that is helping those who were not seeing as many benefits from the traditional flu vaccine.
Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent is the only licensed high-dose inactivated flu vaccine, and it’s been approved for individuals 65 years of age and older. Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent contains four times the antigen – the ingredient that helps our bodies fight off illness – than other comparable vaccines, and it’s intended to give seniors a stronger immune response against the flu.
A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that the previous version of Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose Trivalent, was 24% more effective in preventing flu in older adults than a standard-dose vaccine. In replacing this flu vaccine for seniors with Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, scientists hope to bring even better results to consumers. The side effects of the vaccine are mild, and may include headache, pain and redness at the injection site, muscle aches, and malaise.
Note that it’s important for seniors to specifically request the high-dose vaccine from their doctor or pharmacist. It isn’t guaranteed that this will be the type of vaccine automatically administered to older adults.
In addition to vaccination, there are a few ways you can help prevent the spread of influenza to your older loved ones.
- Stay home. If you’re sick or suspect that you may be sick, stay home from work or school. This minimizes the risk of spreading the disease to anyone else.
- Cover your mouth and nose. Flu and other respiratory illnesses are spread through droplets in the air, so be sure to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands often with soap and water helps prevent the transmission of disease. In the absence of soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is also helpful.
- Don’t touch your face. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Touching a surface where germs are present and then touching your face is a common way to become ill with the flu.
- Keep up on healthy habits. Boost your immune system by getting enough sleep, eating well, drinking lots of fluids, exercising, and frequently disinfecting the surfaces in your home and workplace.
If your loved one would benefit from a friendly companion to transport them to and from a vaccination appointment as well as regular visits for companionship, meal preparation and light housekeeping, consider partnering with Aware Senior Care, a division of Home Care Assistance. We can pair your loved one with a perfectly matched caregiver who can provide these services and more, all in the comfort of home. To learn about our home care assistance in Raleigh and the nearby areas, reach out to us online or give us a call at (919) 436-1871.