Getting a Flu Shot

Getting a Flu Shot

You’ve probably already heard you ought to get the flu vaccine. Along with kids, seniors are the group most encouraged to get vaccinated each flu season. There’s good reason for that – of the thousands of deaths caused each year by the flu, 90% are people 65 years or older, according to the CDC.

What Are Your Flu Vaccine Options?

There are two types of flu vaccines: trivalent and quadrivalent. The trivalent vaccine options protect against three primary strains of the flu (A/H3N2, A/H1N1, and influenza B); the quadrivalent protects from the same along with an extra strain of influenza B.

Both are available in traditional flu shots that are recommended for anyone over 6 months of age. The trivalent is also available in a special shot with a higher dosage for people over the age of 65, to account for the difference in seniors’ immune systems in comparison to the general population.

You may have also heard the vaccine can come in the form of a nasal spray as well, but the quadrivalent vaccine that comes as a nasal spray is only approved for people up to the age of 49. Seniors will need to stick with the shots.

Medicare does cover a flu vaccine every season, and covers the high dose version as well as the traditional, so you shouldn’t have to worry about cost.

When Should You Get the Flu Vaccine?

Flu season typically lasts throughout the fall and winter and is at its worst in January. Doctors recommend getting the vaccine as early in the season as possible, which means if you haven’t gotten it yet this year, the sooner the better.

If you don’t manage to get it in October or November, it’s still worth getting it done in December or January. Flu season can sometimes last through May, so those extra months of protection can make a difference.

Find Where to Get the Flu Vaccine

Most cities and towns will have many options for places you can go to receive the vaccine. All the usual suspects like hospitals and pharmacies will likely have it.

You can find the location that’s most convenient for you by using the Flu Shot Finder.

What to Expect From the Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccine doesn’t offer 100% protection from the flu. There’s a slight chance you may still get it. But the chances are much slimmer if you get the vaccine and with it any flu you catch is likely to be less severe.

There may be some slight side effects that last for a short time after you receive the vaccine. If you encounter any of the following, chances are it’s nothing serious:

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling in the spot you received the shot in.
  • A low fever.
  • Achiness.
  • A runny nose.
  • A sore throat.
  • A headache.
  • A cough.
  • It’s very rare for anyone receiving the vaccine to have more serious side effects than those listed here, but if you experience many allergies it may be worth checking with your doctor in advance of receiving the vaccine to be careful.

    Fall and winter are a time filled with holidays and family. You don’t want those experiences to be overshadowed by a bout with the flu, especially one that leaves you in the hospital or causes serious health complications. A quick trip to the pharmacy or hospital is worth minimizing your risk.

    Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

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