The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone over the age of 6 months get the flu shot. This 2013-14 season a particularly nasty version of influenza, pH1N1, is showing up around the country, with reports of hospitalizations. In a note to clinicians, issued just before Christmas, the CDC observes that this strain of the flu virus tends to affect young and middle-aged adults more than older adults. I would guess that older adults may have been exposed to this strain earlier in their lives. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to get inoculated, especially if you have any respiratory ailment such as asthma. Venues in my area of southeastern Michigan seem to have vaccine still available. The vaccinehealthmap can help you locate a place to get the injection that is near you.
The shot is most effective if you are healthy when you receive it, and it takes about two weeks for the body to respond with full immunity. The CDC publishes a weekly flu map, showing the states in which influenza is showing up locally, regionally, or state-wide. They also publish online an informative flyer on the flu shot called “No More Excuses”, which can help dispel worries about getting inoculated.
Vaccination to prevent illness is an important aspect of primary disease prevention. Older adults are wise to avoid the risk of complications that can accompany such illnesses as influenza. We also have a responsibility to those we care about to help keep them healthy and to minimize the extent that they need to take care of us. Sue Sweeney, Chair, Gerontology Department, Madonna University