By: Dan Messineo
Experts warn this could be the worst flu season in a decade. Many are concerned for our children, but they say it's the elderly who get hit the hardest. Seniors are much more likely to end up in the hospital or even dead because of the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the Support of the National Council on Aging, is working to improve vaccination rates among older adults through the Flu + You campaign.
Director of NCOA's Self-Management Alliance, Dr. Richard Birkel, said the campaign is about getting important vaccination information to seniors. "The National Council on Aging want to empower older adults, their caregivers and families by providing information from the Flu + You initiative to help them understand the seriousness of the flu, the importance of vaccinations and the immunization options available to them," Dr. Birkel said.
The statistics show the seriousness of the flu and its effect on the older adult population. Adults who are 65 and older make up 9 out 10 flu-related deaths in the U.S. and 6 out of 10 flu-related hospital stays. "As we age our immune system weakens; and our ability to fight the illness decreases, that is why older adults are more likely to get the flu and they're more prone to the complications of the flu once they get it," Dr. Birkel said.
According to the CDC, one third of adults 65 and older have not gotten a flu vaccination. This falls well below the CDC's goal of a 90% vaccination coverage. Associate Director of Adult Immunizations for the CDC, Dr. Carolyn Bridges, said the CDC hopes the Flu + You campaign will raise awareness and get the word out about senior's vaccination choices. "Adults in this age group have two available options. The traditional flu shot and the higher dose flu shot. This higher dose flu shot was designed to address the decline of the immune system that occurs with age," Dr. Bridges said.
The National Council on Aging urges anyone 65 or older to talk to their health care provider about their flu vaccine options.
You can click on this link www.NCOA.org/flu for more information on the Flu + You campaign.