Whether it’s autumn, winter or spring, no one has to explain the likely cause of these symptoms: chills, fever, body aches, fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, cough, vomiting and diarrhea. It’s probably the flu. And as we head in to flu season, it’s important for family caregivers and their senior loved ones to schedule an appointment to get the vaccine.
Best Time for a Flu Vaccine
The best time for a flu shot is before influenza season actually starts. Most health care professionals advise receiving the vaccine in mid-October. That gives the body time to build up immunity before the bug starts making the rounds.
If you are a caregiver, you might find yourself wondering if and why you need a flu shot. Especially if you are healthy.
Here’s what to consider.
Why Caregivers Need Flu Shots
Caregivers who have strong immune systems still have many reasons to get the shot.
- Your immune system may be compromised unexpectedly in the middle of flu season. Increased stress, health concerns or lack of sleep can impact your ability to fend off sickness.
- You may have only a mild reaction to the flu, but you may still expose your loved one to it.
- You may unknowingly be a carrier of the flu virus because symptoms don’t always appear immediately.
Seniors and Flu Shots
Older adults would be wise to get the flu shot for the same reasons, plus these:
- For people who are 65 years and older, there’s a higher risk for hospitalization and complications such as pneumonia.
- Older adults may have a weakened immune systems caused by pre-existing health issues, including diabetes, heart disease and even some neurological conditions.
- Visits from grandkids, neighbors and friends may provide an unwelcome opportunity for the flu to spread. That’s because a person may feel perfectly healthy, yet be contagious. People with the flu are most contagious on the day before symptoms appear. They won’t even suspect that they are going to get sick the next day.
Clearing Up Misconceptions about the Flu Shot
Here are a two of the common misconceptions people have about the flu shot:
- The shot will give me the flu. This persistent myth keeps older adults from being vaccinated. According to the CDC, the flu shot contains an inactivated virus. You cannot get the flu from it!
- The flu shot is less effect on seniors. While this might be true in some cases, even limited protection is better than no protection. Experts also say that if a senior does develop the flu after receiving their shot, the symptoms may be much less severe.
Side Effects from the Flu Vaccine
OK, so you’ve decided to get the flu shot. Now you want to know what the side effects could be.
In general, side effects from receiving a flu vaccine are very minimal. They might include headache, low-grade fever, muscle aches, pain around the injection site, and a general feeling of malaise.
Happily, you can expect any side effects to go away a lot faster than the flu.
Live a Healthy Life at Heritage Senior Living Communities
At Heritage Senior Living Communities, we make flu shots available to our residents and employees. It’s just another way that we provide excellent care for our older adults.
In addition, you’ll find enrichment activities, exercise classes and community support—all of which have been shown to help to build the immune system. Don’t wait another season. Call us to schedule a visit soon!