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Flu in Older Adults


Where Can Older Adults Get a Flu Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (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 (Relenza, Tamiflu) 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.

Are There Warning Signs of the Flu That Older People Should Look For?

While the flu can make you feel very ill, sometimes flu complications can develop that will make you feel even worse. Call your doctor immediately if you have any of these signs and symptoms with flu:

  • You have trouble breathing with flu.
  • Symptoms don't improve or they worsen after three or four days.
  • After flu symptoms improve, you suddenly develop signs of a more serious problem including nausea, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.

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


WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Kimball Johnson, MD on August 27, 2012
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