Seniors can choose a stronger flu shot

Experts have agreed for years that getting a flu shot is the best way to protect yourself from influenza – especially for those in vulnerable populations, such as senior citizens.

Reinforcing the message is the National Council on Aging (NCOA), educating older adults about the importance of immunization through a new awareness initiative called Flu + You.  It’s a vital message because aging decreases the body’s ability to fight illness.

But with the decision to immunize comes a choice – which vaccine to take?

Your body’s response to vaccinations may be affected by the age-related decline in the immune system. Recent studies have shown that the traditional flu vaccine might not work as well for people 65 years of age and older. As the immune system weakens, fewer antibodies are produced following vaccination to help protect the body against infection.

Now, adults aged 65 and older have two vaccine options available – the traditional flu shot, as well as a widely available higher dose flu vaccine designed specifically for this population to address the age-related decline of the immune system. The higher dose flu shot triggers the body to produce more antibodies against the flu virus than would be produced by the traditional flu shot.

Both the traditional and higher dose flu shot options are among the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control for adults 65 years of age and older. Medicare Part B covers all influenza vaccine options recommended for this age group with no co-pay, including the higher dose option.

Remember, a flu shot protects you and also helps prevent the spread of the flu to others you care about, including family members and friends who may not have gotten their flu shot.

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