Flu Vaccines for Seniors

For those of us that are teetering on the edge between “older” and “elder” (better known as 65+), there is good news! There are flu vaccines out there that pack an extra punch to lend a bit more support to our “older” immune systems. The High Dose Flu vaccine contains four times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot (ProHealth does not have the high dose). This vaccine should result in higher antibody production, or in other words, stronger protection for those who may need it the most. Although the flu is difficult to endure in and of itself, complications like bronchitis, sinus infections, and pneumonia can result in a hospital stay and may even be life-threatening. The flu vaccines are not infallible. However, the high dose version has shown to reduce rates of flu infection and has the added benefit of protecting against pneumonia.

As with most vaccines, there can be mild side effects, such as soreness at the injection site and on rare occasions a fever. Generally, these side effects are mild and short-lived. The flu vaccine is proven safe, and the risks from it are less than what can happen with flu infections.

Allergies and Precautions

If you have specific allergies, you should discuss the flu vaccine with your physician. In the past, people with egg allergies had to be careful since the vaccine is manufactured in eggs. However, people with egg allergies can safely receive the flu vaccine under the supervision of their healthcare professionals.
Occasionally, patients have complained that they contracted the flu from the vaccine. This is not possible. With the exception of the flu nasal spray, the injectable flu vaccines contain no live virus and cannot cause you to have the flu. It can take up to two weeks for the vaccine to build up enough antibodies in your system to protect you. If you get ill before then, it would be the result of being exposed to someone or something harboring the flu virus.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of flu may include fever, cough, sore throat, sinus congestion, body aches, chills, fever, headache, and occasionally, even nausea and vomiting. If you think you may be coming down with the flu, seek medical help as soon as possible. There are antiviral medications that can make the illness milder and help you get well faster. They may also prevent any severe health problems associated with the flu. There are specific symptoms that would be considered a medical emergency. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following, please seek medical attention immediately.

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve and then return with a fever or worse

Best Practices

Along with getting the high dose flu vaccine, practice frequent handwashing techniques especially in public places. Give special notice to things like doorknobs and grocery carts where people who may be contagious have left their mark. If you suspect you may have handled an infected area, keep your hands away from your face and ears until you can wash or sanitize them. It’s unfortunate that the flu can also be airborne, so try not to get caught in an elevator or other small space with someone who is coughing and sneezing.

It only takes a moment of very mild discomfort to get the vaccine. All ProHealth locations offer the regular flu vaccine injections and FluMist. Visit a location today and beat the flu this season. Healthy Wishes!