As with getting osteoporosis checks, It is often recommended that elderly people take advantage of the influenza vaccine. Since older people are more likely to develop complications from influenza it can be a lifesaving maneuver to get the shot when it becomes available in the fall. In many areas the vaccine is free, especially if a dangerous strain of flu virus is expected that year so you do not run the risk of having to pay hefty fees to get the treatment you need.
How the Vaccine Works
The influenza vaccine combines traces of the most common stains of flu that are expected to impact the population that year, though the samples used in the vaccine are dead. This allows your immune system to come in contact with the virus and start building antibodies against it so you have an extra line of defense should you be exposed to the flu later. It is not uncommon for those who have received the vaccine to show flu-like symptoms for a few days afterward but these will be much less severe than contracting the virus naturally and do not pose a serious health threat.
You will need to get the vaccine at least two weeks before flu season starts, or sometime in the beginning of October, in order to allow your body enough time to build the antibodies it needs. If you are very immune depressed or have other health issues that make catching the flu very dangerous then you should encourage everyone in your household and caregivers you have to get the vaccine as well. This will help prevent a mutated strand of the flu from developing in your household and then making you ill.
There are rare cases where someone has a negative reaction to the influenza vaccine. If you have had a previous negative experience with the vaccine, including GBS, which causes weakness or paralysis of the muscles, then you should refrain from getting the vaccine during any future flu seasons. You should also avoid getting the shot if you have a severe allergy to eggs as this is one of the main ingredients in the shot in addition to the flu strains. If you have any concerns about how the vaccine would affect you or any other health regimens you are using, speak to a doctor before getting the shot.
The influenza vaccine prevents patients from contracting the most common strains of flu but you can still get sick throughout flu season. To cut down on this risk make a point of washing your hands regularly, especially after blowing your nose or coughing. Try to cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue to avoid coming in contact with germs. Dispose of use tissues as soon as possible, preferable in a waste basket with a lid to avoid contamination. If you start to feel ill, contact your doctor about what remedies would give relief without conflicting with any other medications you might be on and stay at home and rest until you are feeling better.
The main reason influenza vaccines for elderly people are so often recommended is because seniors are much more likely to develop pneumonia from exposure to the flu. If your doctor has mentioned that you have a serious risk for this, consider getting the pneumonia vaccine in addition to the influenza shot to avoid contracting a fatal infection. Anyone with a severe pneumonia risk should also avoid anyone who develops influenza to avoid any complications that might arise. This includes those with preexisting heart or lung conditions that affect their ability to breath or fight off infection.