“There’s a deadly virus spreading from state to state,” the recent Kaiser Health News article warns. “It preys on the most vulnerable, striking the sick and the old without mercy. In just the past few months, it has claimed the lives of at least 39 children.” Is this the frightening coronavirus out of Wuhan, China, that has made ominous headlines around the world? Nope – it’s good old-fashioned influenza. Yet while many Americans are terrified of this new Chinese illness, most greet the flu with a casual shrug.
The Flu Shot is Still Available, and Still Beneficial
As CNN has just reported, “The 2019-2020 flu season is projected to be one of the worst in a decade, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. At least 140,000 people have been hospitalized with complications from the flu, and that number is predicted to climb as flu activity swirls.” Flu season is reaching its peak, often hitting during March, and if you’re among the many (more than half, says Kaiser) who put off getting vaccinated, you might think it’s too late.
But you’d be wrong. With February here, you can and should still get vaccinated, but it would be wise to hurry, since it can take 10 to 14 days for the vaccine to take full effect. Many larger chain drug stores are still offering flu shots, which health experts call the number one most effective way to protect yourself, your neighbors and the most vulnerable. No vaccine is perfect, and you still might catch the flu, but the odds of avoiding it or at least suffering a milder case improve significantly if you’ve had the shot.
On its website, the CDC says people should get a flu vaccine in the fall, but better late than never. “Getting vaccinated later, however, can still be beneficial. As long as flu viruses are circulating, it is not too late to get vaccinated…Most of the time flu activity peaks between December and February, although activity can last as late as May. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body that protect against flu virus infection, it is best that people get vaccinated in time to be protected before flu viruses begin spreading in their community.” Children and seniors are considered to be at greatest flu risk.
Benefits of the Flu Shot Appear to be Cumulative, Study Finds
Here’s another reason to get your flu shot every year. As we’ve reported here before, research from 2018 showed that those who get vaccinated every year, even in years like 2017-2018 when the vaccine was marginally effective, tend to build up a degree of resistance to the virus. This 2018 article from the website HealthDay said that there is strong evidence that annual flu shots repeated over multiple consecutive years help keep vulnerable seniors from being hospitalized. “New research shows that for older adults, faithfully getting the vaccine each year greatly reduces the odds of catching a flu so severe that it lands you in the hospital.”
The article describes a Spanish research study which revealed that those seniors who get their flu shot year after year reduce their risk of dying from influenza by an amazing 70 percent, and they are also 74 percent less likely to wind up in intensive care due to effects from the flu bug. According to Dr. Jesus Castilla, the Spanish research physician who authored the study, “The findings bolster the notion that although getting a flu shot doesn’t always prevent the flu, it can make it milder for those who do catch it.” As one doctor put it, “The most important take-home message is to get your flu shot and not worry about how effective it is this year.”
Beyond the Flu Shot: Get the Right Health Care with a Geriatrician
As we at AgingOptions read these articles, they bring to mind the critical importance of getting good, solid, age-appropriate medical advice. For seniors, we strongly advise that you seek out the services of a geriatrician, someone trained in the unique health needs of older adults. A geriatrician will take the time to get to know you, answer your questions, and give you medical advice that is right for your age and circumstances – the exact opposite of the “cookie cutter medicine” all too common today. If you’ll contact us at AgingOptions we will gladly refer you to a geriatrician in your area.
Get the Right Retirement Advice with an AgingOptions LifePlan
What about your retirement planning? Here, too, it’s vital that you work with someone who will take the time to listen to you and get to know your circumstances – not someone who will suggest a one-size-fits-all approach that may seem suitable today but is sure to prove dangerously inadequate in the future when health concerns loom and housing plans become unsustainable. At AgingOptions we call our comprehensive retirement planning approach LifePlanning, and we invite you to join Rajiv Nagaich at a free seminar where you can get the facts about this retirement breakthrough for yourself. We offer these LifePlanning Seminars at locations throughout the Puget Sound region, and we would love to have you join us. For dates, times and locations, click here to visit our Live Events page. Then register online or call us during the week.
LifePlanning Seminars do fill up fast, so why not register today? It will be our pleasure to meet you. Meanwhile, stay healthy – and “Age on!”
(originally reported at https://consumer/healthday.com and other sources)