As flu season is in full swing, worried caregivers find themselves wondering if f flu vaccination is safe for senior citizens. Some of the most common questions are when should seniors be vaccinated, if there are vaccination options and what health risks does the immunization pose. Since last year’s flu season was especially hard on older adults, causing more deaths and hospitalizations than in years before, it’s important for today’s caregivers to learn more about senior flu vaccination.
A Hard Look at the Flu Vaccine
Some of the most common concerns about the flu vaccine come from its ingredients. You may have heard people say that the flu shot can actually make you contract the flu virus, or that the immunizations contain eggs and pose a risk to anyone with egg allergies. Luckily, these are both myths.
The main ingredient of the flu vaccine is the weakened or inactive flu viruses. These both prompt the body to make antibodies. The vaccines, which come in either injection or nasal spray formulations, also contain some form of a preservative. There is a full list of flu vaccine ingredients on the CDC’s website
No matter how the vaccine is delivered, it cannot cause someone to develop the flu virus. Here’s the truth about the vaccine:
- Some people do feel minor side effects after vaccination. The shots commonly cause pain, redness or swelling at the injection site, while nasal spray vaccinations often cause runny nose, headache, sore throat or cough.
- With either method of delivery, recipients may notice a mild fever, generalized aches or fatigue. These are normally mild and disappear quickly.
Who Should Not Get a Flu Vaccination?
While the vaccine is normally safe, there are some exceptions that all caregivers should be aware of. Certain groups of people with compromised health or immune systems are encouraged not to get immunized, making it important to consult with a physician before being vaccinated. These groups include:
- Anyone who has suffered severe allergic reactions in the past to flu vaccinations or eggs
- Anyone who is currently moderately or severely ill
- Anyone with a history of Guillain–Barré Syndrome
- Anyone with immunodeficiency diseases
- Anyone with current medical conditions that cause a higher risk for flu complications. These conditions include asthma or diabetes.
Options for Seniors
Luckily, there are some vaccination options for anyone over the age of 65. Those include:
- A new 2014 trivalent vaccine is available that protects against three strains of flu, along with a quadrivalent vaccine that protects against an additional form of Influenza B.
- Since some vaccines are actually less effective for older adults, there is also a new high-dose vaccine that delivers four times the normal amount of antigens.
- It’s also great to know that Medicare Part B pays for 100 percent of the seasonal flu vaccination costs for seniors.