During National Influenza Week, let’s get some common myths and misconceptions about this vaccine out of the way.

The vaccine can give you the flu. The vaccine can give individuals flu-like side effects as their body builds up immunity after receiving it, but the vaccination does not contain an activated virus that will cause a person to catch the flu.
There is no point in getting the flu shot after November. A late flu shot is better than no flu shot. Flu season can run all the way through the month of May. Although December and January are the peak months, as long as the virus is out there, those who are not vaccinated are more susceptible to being infected.
The vaccine does not work in older adults. The vaccine is effective in older adults. Two different vaccines were designed specifically for people 65 years and older to help reduce the risk.
Healthy people do not need to get the flu vaccine, especially those who have never gotten the flu in previous years. Each year, the virus changes and can infect even the healthiest of people, causing them to develop unwanted symptoms. This is why vaccines are changed and updated each year to adapt and offer the best protection for everyone.

Vaccination is vital for adults 65 years and older, because this age group is one of the most susceptible, along with children and pregnant women.

In fact, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 54 to 70 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in those 65 years and older and 71 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths occur in the same age group. Why? Unfortunately, it is because people’s immune system weakens with age.
Vaccination is vital for adults 65 years and older, because this age group is one of the most susceptible, along with children and pregnant women.

The good news is that the CDC’s recent studies show that the risk of the vaccination reduces the risk of catching the flu by 40 to 60 percent. Also, because the effectiveness of the vaccine is lessened in older age groups (when their immune systems are not as quick to respond), two new Federal Drug Administration-approved vaccinations were developed specifically for people 65 years and older:

Fluzone High-Dose: Approved for use in the U.S. in 2009, this high dose vaccine contains four times as much antigen as a regular flu vaccine to provide better protection. One clinical trial with more than 30,000 participants resulted in 24 percent fewer influenza infections for adults 65 years and older, while a 2017 study showed that this high-potency vaccine meant fewer hospitalizations during the flu season.

Fluad: Approved for U.S. use in 2015, this flu vaccine contains an additive (Adjuvant MF59) to help stimulate a better immune response. It was licensed in several European countries prior to U.S. approval and a 2011-2012 Canadian study observed that Fluad was 63 percent more effective than regular flu vaccines in those 65 years and older.

These two drugs were developed to offer extra protection to older individuals and have proven to do exactly that. By preparing and protecting yourself against influenza, you are not only preventing the flu, but also possible hospitalization from its complications. This can include sinus and ear infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis, as well as worsening of other preexisting conditions.

Stop by the Hirsh Health Center today and get your flu shot. Specializing in older patients, our outpatient wellness center is centrally located at Ring House, 1801 East Jefferson Street, Rockville, Maryland. Office hours are Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and we are always accepting new patients.

Please call 301-816-5004 or visit www.smithlifecommunities.org to schedule your appointment today!