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The Flu Shot is the Best Way for Older Adults to Protect Their Health This Winter

    • December 19, 2023
    • Wellness
    • 3 minute read
  • Heather Savedra, MD

Falling temperatures mean illnesses such as the common cold, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, are starting to spread. Combined with the still-present COVID-19 virus, these illnesses can lead to hospitalization for older adults, especially in those already diagnosed with heart and lung conditions or who are otherwise immunocompromised. This means it’s time to think about how these people will protect their health this winter. Getting the flu shot is one of the best ways to do so.

It is important for vulnerable seniors to receive their flu shot as soon as possible.

I’ve seen patients for more than 20 years and have heard a variety of concerns about the flu vaccine. The most common worry I’ve encountered is that the shot will give you the flu. While there can be mild side effects from the flu shot such as fever, aches or fatigue, the vaccine itself will not give you the flu. In fact, adults who get the flu shot are much less likely to get the flu.

Although no vaccine prevents illness 100% of the time, if you are vaccinated and still get the flu, you are much more likely to have a mild case of the illness. Last year’s data showed that the flu vaccination significantly reduced flu-related hospitalization among adults.

Of course, you should talk with your personal primary care doctor about how the vaccine fits into your care plan. If you are over 60 years old and on Medicare, ArchWell Health providers are available to answer questions about the flu shot and other health concerns specific to older adults.

If you are a senior with a respiratory or heart condition such as COPD, asthma or a heart condition, or are actively receiving cancer treatments that make you immunocompromised, your doctor may also suggest you receive the RSV vaccine. For the first time, the RSV vaccine is available to older adults to protect them against this viral illness that can lead to pneumonia and hospitalization.

Many local pharmacies make it easy and affordable to get your yearly vaccines and may offer the latest COVID-19 booster.

Keeping our communities healthy this winter is a communal effort. Getting the annual flu shot and other important vaccines is a great way to protect yourself and your loved ones.

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About the Author

Heather Savedra, MD

After a brief stint in accounting, Dr. Heather Savedra found her true calling in medicine. As a board-certified Internal Medicine and Obesity specialist, Dr. Savedra applies years of experience in the service of ArchWell Health’s senior patients. “Being able to spend more time with patients is important,” says Dr. Savedra who feels the extra time with patients is crucial to caring for seniors efficiently and with respect. When not in the service of patients, Dr. Savedra stays active playing pickleball and snuggling her fur-baby dogs, Steve and Chica.

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