One of the biggest questions that come up every winter is whether people receiving 24-hour care should get a flu shot if they haven’t done so already. Luckily the same answer applies to residents of Flintridge and elsewhere: yes!
Medical professionals strongly encourage people to receive a flu shot, and the team at Accredited Home Care concurs with these suggestions. Generally speaking, a flu shot is a smart way to resist common flu types, and if you do happen to contract it, it may not hit you as hard or be as destructive as if you didn’t receive the vaccine.
Seniors have an increased risk of acquiring the flu, and people with weaker health also face high risk. This means seniors in poor health have an even higher risk of not only contracting the flu but it being harmful, even fatal.
So if a tiny poke with a needle can minimize the risk, it’s worth it, recommends the Mayo Clinic, which says the flu shot is “your best bet at avoiding influenza.”
Yes, there are some voices who claim that vaccines don’t help or even can cause harm. But more voices, including every legitimate medical organization, are unanimous in the view that an annual flu shot is a smart strategy.
Thinking “the flu only happens to other people,” is dangerous: last year, more than 900,000 people were hospitalized with the flu nationwide, and it was fatal for 80,000.
Here’s why it’s a fine idea.
- You can still be exposed to the flu. Even if you are generally housebound and don’t go out much, you still could potentially acquire it when you run errands, even if you take precautions. Or, if you are completely housebound, there’s still a risk of acquiring it from anyone who comes to visit. This can include friends and family members, and any care providers. Although most home health care workers are required to have the flu shot as a precaution since they visit so many people, they still expose others to it without realizing it, especially vulnerable clients. Sometimes germs may linger on certain surfaces, or people can spread it without knowing they’re infected.
- You won’t get the flu from the flu vaccine. This is one of the biggest misconceptions related to the possible risks of vaccines, said the Centers for Disease Control. Vaccines are made with non-infectious flu strains or a few genes of a flu virus but not all the ingredients. So claims that “you’re just getting another flu” are untrue, the CDC affirms.
- You can avoid flu complications. Along with the actual pain, exhaustion and other symptoms that can occur directly from the flu, having the flu can weaken your immune system and potentially lead to a variety of other dangerous complications, including cardiac problems, respiratory problems, and possible infections. Being able to avoid contracting it or reducing the flu’s severity could also minimize the risk of these potentially dangerous or even fatal complications. Adultvaccination.org, part of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said the risk of heart attacks for adults over 65 increases 3 to 5 times in the two weeks after exposure to the flu, and 2 to 3 times for strokes. The risk of pneumonia, which also can be dangerous and possibly fatal, also increases.
- Don’t need to relocate. Many people with the flu, especially seniors, may need to be admitted to the hospital for monitoring and advanced care. The Centers for Disease Control said the number of flu-associated hospitalizations has dropped 40 percent in recent years since medical professionals began promoting vaccines. The possibility of infection or other diseases, along with higher stress, also can increase if a hospital stay is required. Or, a provider may recommend relocating to a place where better care is available, such as a rehabilitation facility.
- New year, new vaccine. Although some childhood immunizations are designed to last years, the current state of flu vaccines requires getting a new one every year. A previous year’s vaccine doesn’t necessarily wear out or stop working, but may not be as effective – vaccines are designed to combat at least one of dozens of strains that are supposed to be the most active/dangerous. Even if the ingredients or the strain or similar, getting a new shot each year can serve as a better booster and provide optimal protection.
Because of the popularity of the flu vaccine, there are a variety of different ways people can get it beyond scheduling a formal doctor visit. For instance, people may be able to get it from a pharmacy or a representative from a home health care agency.
Depending on availability in your community and the year, there may even be strains of the flu vaccine especially designed for older people. These can include more boosters to the immune system or more antigen.
Overall, the team at Accredited Home Care is happy to provide any assistance to people wanting to get their flu shot or even connect them to appropriate medical personnel to help encourage them about the potential benefits of getting one.