Importance of Flu Shots and Other Inoculations for Seniors

senior receiving a flu shot

It is that time of year again when people start getting colds and flu symptoms. Angie knows her coworkers will be spreading these illnesses around the office. Caring for her senior mother at home, Angie must be diligent about not getting sick or exposing her mother to germs. To prevent the flu, Angie will be getting her flu shot as soon as possible but she also wonders what vaccinations her mother should receive.

Inoculations for Seniors

People older than 65 have a greater chance of developing complications from Influenza and other communicable diseases due to a weaker immune system. That is why the Centers for Disease Control recommend seniors are up to date on all inoculations.

Types of Inoculations

Influenza – Seniors should get vaccinated each year before flu season begins. The peak season for flu is January and February but often signs of the virus can be found as early as October. It takes two weeks for a person to build immunity after a flu shot so one should plan accordingly.

The familiar vaccine known as Quadrivalent includes two influenza A viruses and two influenza B viruses. New this year is a high dose vaccine for seniors called Trivalent which contains four times the amount of antigen than in the regular flu shot and includes two influenza A viruses and one influenza B virus. The Trivalent vaccine was developed for the special needs of seniors and is believed to create a stronger immune response and higher antibody production.

Pneumococcal – The Pneumococcal vaccine protects against pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease causes infections of the lungs, blood stream and lining of the brain and spinal cord and causes thousands of deaths each year. Receiving two, one-time shots called PCV13 and PPSV23 one year apart are required to prevent this disease.

Herpes Zoster – The Herpes Zoster vaccine is the Shingles vaccine for people 60 or older who have had chicken pox in the past and are at risk for this virus. This vaccine requires a booster shot every five years.

MMR – vaccine protects against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. It is a one-time vaccination. As it was developed in 1958, many children born after that year received the inoculation as a general practice. If you were born before 1957 find out if you were inoculated at any point in your life. With new cases of measles being reported it is important to check with your doctor to learn if you have already had this vaccination.

Tdap – The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). The tetanus booster should be received every ten years. The pertussis vaccine can be given separately as well. Whooping cough is very dangerous to infants. It is important to ensure your booster shots are up to date if you spend any time around children.

Some vaccines may present side effects in older adults and some individuals may have allergies to ingredients in vaccinations. Be sure to discuss any health conditions and allergies with your doctor prior to being vaccinated.

Combatting the Flu at Green Hill

At Green Hill, we recommend that all residents and staff receive the flu shot and we have already administered the flu shots on site. We are also very vigilant in our infection control procedures, including handwashing, to ensure that infections are not started or spread in the community.

At Green Hill, we use the SHARE method to provide important information to help residents make informed decisions about vaccinations.

S – SHARE the reasons why the influenza vaccine is right for the individual given his or her age, health status, lifestyle, occupation, or other risk factors. “This vaccine can protect you from flu, which is more likely to cause severe illness for you because of changes in the immune system that happen with aging, making you more prone to severe illness from influenza.”

H – HIGHLIGHT positive experiences with influenza vaccines to reinforce the benefits and strengthen confidence in flu vaccination. The CDC recommends they get the influenza vaccine each year.

A – ADDRESS questions and any concerns about the influenza vaccine, including side effects, safety, and vaccine effectiveness in plain and understandable language. “A flu shot cannot cause flu illness. Flu shots are made either with flu vaccine viruses that have been ‘inactivated’, making them not infectious or with no flu vaccine viruses at all. The most common side effects of an influenza vaccine are mild, like redness, swelling, or pain in your arm where the shot was given. This should go away within a few days.”

R – REMIND that influenza vaccines protect them and their loves ones from serious flu illness and flu-related complications. “Flu activity is going to start to pick up, and CDC says to expect more cases in the coming months. That is why we want to make sure we help protect you and your loved ones.”

E – EXPLAIN the potential costs of getting the flu, including serious health effects, time lost (such as missing work or family obligations), and financial costs. “While flu seasons can vary in severity, during most seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease, making it important for you to get vaccinated. Flu vaccination can reduce potential serious complications from flu illness and prevent flu-related hospitalizations.”

For More Information
Flu Vaccine Flyer
For more on the High Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine visit.
https://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/qa_fluzone.htm, or https://www.cdc.gov.

This article is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen