It's an unfortunate reality that as we grow older, our immune system becomes weaker. This puts people 65 and older at higher risk for catching the flu. The flu can be more than an inconvenience for older adults. In a typical flu season, older adults account
for 70 to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States, and between 50 and 70 percent of hospitalizations caused by the influenza virus.
With that information in mind, it's surprising to learn how many seniors still resist getting a flu shot. While it's considered to be one of the best ways to protect yourself from the virus, only 65 percent of older adults receive the influenza vaccine
in a typical year.Why aren't seniors more compliant with their physician's recommendation to get a flu shot?
There are a variety of myths that might be the culprit.
Busting 4 Common Myths About Flu Shots
Myth #1: The flu shot can cause the flu
This is a popular and persistent myth. Many people believe the flu shot gives you a small dose of the active flu virus in order to give your body an opportunity to build its own antibodies. That is false.
The flu vaccine contains an inactive strain of the flu virus
. You can't get the flu from it. The most common side effect is muscle soreness near the injection site.
Myth #2: You don't need a flu shot every year
Another myth that might be keeping older adults from getting vaccinated is that you don't need the flu shot every year. If you had it last year, you are still safe.
The truth is that each flu season brings a new strain of the flu. Scientists develop new vaccines every year to try to protect people from the strains they expect to be bad that year.
Most physicians recommend seniors get vaccinated in early October before the worst of flu season begins.
Myth #3: Healthy people don't need to get a flu shot
While it's true that children, pregnant women, and people aged 40 or older are at higher risk for flu-related complications, healthy people of all ages can catch the flu. They can also spread it to people they come in contact with who might not be as healthy.
Myth #4: The flu isn't all that serious
People sometimes confuse a cold with the flu. That makes them less inclined to get a flu shot. They view the illness as more of an inconvenience than a serious threat. This is a dangerous myth.
Over 200,000 people are hospitalized each year because of the flu, and another 36,000 people die from it. Seniors make up the bulk of those numbers.The bottom line?
We encourage you to share this information with the older adults in your life, especially those who are reluctant to be vaccinated. It might help them learn why they need to follow their doctor's orders and get a flu shot.
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