If you're 65 years or older, it is likely that your immune system is weaker than it used to be. Doctors consider seniors to be at "high-risk" for influenza, and advise that they should all receive an annual influenza vaccination. As well, people with chronic heart, lung or kidney disease, or suffering from diabetes, cancer or anemia are especially at risk. The influenza vaccine is a simple precaution - and it could save your life.
Getting an influenza vaccination is the single best guard against this serious disease, offering up to 60 per cent protection in preventing pneumonia and hospitalization, and up to 85 per cent in preventing death.
For people 65 and older, the protection from the vaccine lasts for about four months before it starts to wear off. That is why the vaccine should ideally be given in late October/early November. This gives your body enough time to build up immunity before the influenza season starts. Getting your vaccination early will also maintain your immunity through the peak of the influenza season from December to March.
If you're 65 years and older or living with a chronic disease or illness and being vaccinated to prevent the flu, you may also consider getting a vaccination against pneumococcal disease. It is safe to get both these vaccines at the same time. The vaccines are injected into separate sites using separate needles. Studies have shown that the number and severity of side effects does not increase when pneumococcal vaccine is given at the same time as influenza vaccine.
In the elderly, vaccine effectiveness is about half of that of healthy adults that is why it is important that we all do our part in protecting those at risk and NH is encouraging all those that are capable of spreading the influenza infection to high risk people, to get the flu vaccine. This year people 65 year and older will be offered FLUAD, a vaccine preparation that contains an 'adjuvant' that acts like a 'booster' to help stimulate a better immune response in this population.
For additional information, please contact your local public health nurse or your family doctor.
Vaccine will be offered starting the week of October 29 and you may get your flu shot at a public clinic or through one of our partners; pharmacists or physicians.
Visit our Influenza Vaccinations and Clinic Listings section of our website to find a clinic near you.