The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) begins its annual influenza vaccination awareness campaign this week, urging seniors and their caregivers to protect themselves and their loved ones during this year’s flu season.
The 2016-2017 kickoff campaign, which runs Dec. 4-10, emphasizes flu facts and stresses the importance of getting vaccinated. Flu activity in the United States is usually highest between December and February and can escalate during the holiday periods where families tend to travel and gather.
It’s especially important for seniors to be vaccinated, since the age group at highest risk for hospitalization and death are older adults, the CDC reports.
The flu vaccine is different every year, because viruses are always changing. This year, the CDC is specifically recommending one of the injectable versions of the vaccine. The nasal spray version is not recommended this year, due to concerns of weak performance, the CDC says in this season’s influenza prevention recommendations.
For seniors, the extra-strength version of the vaccine is available again this year—designed especially for the less robust immune systems of people age 65 and older.
Despite educational and awareness efforts, thousands of people die each year from the flu. Some 60-80 percent of people who are hospitalized with the flu and 40-75 percent of people who die from the flu are age 65 or older, the CDC reports. Too many older adults fail to get vaccinated each year, especially older African Americans and Hispanics, according to an American Lung Association report.
It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to take effect and create the antibodies needed to combat the flu. With the holidays approaching, now is a great time to get vaccinated.
The CDC website offers free downloadable resources and tools for professional caregivers to share with residents and families.