The influenza virus, aka the flu, can strike at any time of year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the height of what is known as “flu season” typically hits the United States in October. Most flu seasons end in February, though some have run as long as May.

For many, a battle with the flu involves a week or two of coughing, congestion, and mild aches and pains. But some individuals, including those 65 years and older, are more likely to develop what the CDC calls “flu complications.” These include bronchitis, pneumonia and other severe infections.

People with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes and heart disease are also more susceptible to developing serious flu complications. This is especially worrisome for the health care system in Florida, where more than 13 million people suffer from at least one chronic condition.

How Important Is the Flu Vaccine for Seniors?

According to the CDC’s analysis of past flu seasons, adults age 65 years and older accounted for 70% of all flu-related hospitalizations nationwide and up to 85% of all seasonal flu-related deaths.

That’s why the CDC says it’s important for all adults over 65 to get an annual flu vaccine.

The National Council on Aging recommends getting your flu shot as early as possible in the season. But it’s never too late. As long as the virus is active, a flu shot may be beneficial in preventing or easing the associated symptoms.

The Difference Between Trivalent and Quadrivalent Flu Vaccines

Most flu vaccines are either trivalent, meaning they protect against three separate flu viruses, or quadrivalent, meaning they protect against four.

According to the CDC, two of the trivalent flu vaccines were designed to stimulate a stronger immune system response in people 65 and older:

  • High-Dose Flu Vaccine: Brand name: Fluzone High-Dose
    This vaccination is formulated to be about four times as powerful as a traditional flu shot. According to a 2014 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it may be almost 25% more effective than other vaccinations in protecting people age 65 years and older against the flu.
  • Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine: Brand name: Fluad
    The adjuvanted flu vaccine is made with an additive that can help stimulate a stronger immune system response than other formulas, says the CDC. In an observational study conducted during the Canadian 2011–2012 flu season, Fluad was shown to be significantly more effective than other vaccinations in preventing influenza in adults age 65 year or older.

To date, there have been no randomized studies comparing the effectiveness of Fluzone High-Dose with Fluad, according to the CDC.

Keeping Your Loved One Safe From Flu

Despite the vaccinations’ effectiveness, safety record and minimal side effects, some seniors are resistant to getting a flu shot. Others do not have the mobility or transport options to obtain a potentially life-saving vaccination.

At Sonata Senior Living, we make it easy for residents of our Florida assisted living communities to make the flu shot part of their annual wellness routine.

To learn more, call a community near you today or schedule a visit →

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