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Flu in Older Adults

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How Can Older Adults Prevent the Flu? continued...

There is now a high-dose flu vaccine made specifically for the elderly. The high-dose flu shot contains four times as much active ingredient as a regular flu shot. It is supposed to bring on a higher immune response than the regular flu shot. The shot is recommended for this age group, if it's available.

Keep in mind that the seasonal flu viruses change each year, so older adults need to get a new flu shot each fall.

Also, there are two pneumococcal vaccines to prevent pneumonia. If you are a healthy adult over age 65, the CDC recommends you receive both vaccines. The timing and sequence of the vaccines will vary depending on what vaccine you may have previously had.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Flu Shot: Influenza Vaccine.

Where Can Older Adults Get a Flu Shot?

The CDC offers an online flu shot clinic locator. Flu vaccinations are easier to find than ever. They are commonly found at walk-in clinics at many pharmacies and grocery stores. That's in addition to local health departments and many doctors' offices.

Can Older Adults Use the Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine?

FluMist is a nasal spray flu vaccine that contains a live flu virus. FluMist is not recommended for adults over age 49.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's What Is FluMist?

When Should Older Adults Get a Flu Shot?

The flu season can begin as early as September and last until as late as May. It's recommended that people get a flu shot early in the season so the body has a chance to build up immunity to the flu virus. It takes about two weeks for the flu shot to offer protection. Still, if you miss the early flu shots, getting a flu shot later still helps.

How Is Flu Treated in Older Adults?

Seniors should contact their health care provider if flu symptoms develop. A medical evaluation may be needed to evaluate for complications and treatment. Antiviral medication, such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu), peramivir (Rapivab), or zanamivir (Relenza), may be prescribed.

Other recommendations for treating flu symptoms in older adults include:

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Ask the doctor or pharmacist before buying a new over-the-counter cold or flu medicine to make sure it won't interfere with prescription drugs or complicate existing medical conditions.

For in-depth information, see WebMD's Flu Treatment.

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