Flu shots: Even more important as you age | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Flu shots: Even more important as you age

Vicki McKenna

The 2017-18 flu season hit Lake Tahoe hard, following a national trend of more than 30,000 flu-related hospitalizations. Adults ages 65 and older were four times as likely as the general population to end up in the hospital due to complications from the flu.

Getting the flu vaccine is crucial. Although it can’t prevent every case of the flu, it’s still your best protection. And if you do become ill, your symptoms may be milder.

How the Flu Vaccine Works

Flu viruses occur in many varieties. Every year, scientists predict which flu viruses will be most common in the coming months. Then they develop a vaccine targeting three or four strains that are most likely to spread.

The scientists’ predictions are more accurate in some years than in others. However, even if the viruses in the vaccine and those going around a few months later aren’t a perfect match, the vaccine can still be helpful. That’s because a vaccine targeting one virus may offer some protection against similar viruses.

Why You Should Be Immunized

It’s especially important to protect yourself from the flu as you age. Older adults are at a higher risk for hospitalizations from the flu and flu-related deaths. Aging weakens your immune system, making it harder for your body to fend off the flu. Having another health condition — such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes — adds to the risk for flu-related problems.

Vaccines work with your immune system to prevent illness. Ask your doctor about special forms of the vaccine designed to overcome the impact of an aging immune system.

Don’t Forget!

Get your flu shot now so your body has time to build up immunity before flu season starts. Often, the vaccine will keep the flu away, but if you do get sick the immunization could make the difference between a minor issue and life-threatening illness.

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