With all the talk about COVID vaccines and boosters, it might be easy to forget about another important vaccination – the flu shot.
Seasonal flu cases dropped to a historic low last year. This is likely due to mask-wearing, social distancing, and other precautionary measures designed to fight the pandemic. But, now that schools and businesses have reopened and travel has resumed, experts fear the flu will come roaring back.
Our immune systems weaken as we age. That’s why people age 65 years and older are at higher risk of developing serious flu complications. In recent years, it’s estimated that between 70 percent and 85 percent of flu-related deaths occurred in people 65 and older, and between 50 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in the 65-plus age group.
Health experts say the best way to protect yourself and your senior from potentially serious complications is with a flu vaccine. Here’s what they want you to know:
Who should get a flu shot?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone 6 months old and older should get a flu vaccine every year, with rare exceptions.
When should you get a flu shot?
Flu season typically starts in October and lasts through May. Because it takes two weeks for protection to develop, experts recommend getting vaccinated before the end of October. After that, it’s still better to get the vaccine than not.
Where can you get a flu shot?
Doctor’s offices, pharmacies, and health departments should all have doses – and most people with health insurance can get it with no co-pay.
Can you get the seasonal flu and COVID-19 at the same visit?
Yes. Because symptoms are similar, it’s important to get tested, to determine the best course of treatment.
Can you get the seasonal flu shot at the same time as the COVID vaccine or booster?
Yes. The flu vaccine can be administered with a primary COVID-19 shot or a booster dose.
Are there side effects?
Some people report having mild side effects, including soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was given. Some may also experience a low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches.
For more information about the seasonal flu and the flu vaccine, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website – cdc.gov/flu .Or talk to your personal physician or pharmacist.