October 20, 2011

There are many common misconceptions about flu vaccinations. It is not possible to get influenza from the traditional flu shot. The vaccine is made from a killed virus which is not capable of causing the disease. Influenza vaccine may cause temporary soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site. Some people get mild fever or aches that can last up to one or two days. Pneumococcal vaccine can also cause mild redness or pain where the shot is given. Less than 1% of those who get the shot develop a fever, muscle aches, or more severe local reactions. If considering the nasal spray vaccine, understand that it is a live but weakened virus and is not recommended for adults over 50.

Oftentimes seniors do not get vaccinated because they don’t believe the flu shot works. It is true that the flu vaccine is not 100% effective in preventing flu, and it is possible for some people to still get influenza after taking the flu shot. However, these people usually get a milder case of the flu than they otherwise would get. Here are some more reasons why all seniors should get vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia:

  • Weakened defenses. Older bodies’ natural defense systems tend to decrease, which places older people at greater risk of flu and pneumonia. Vaccines can ward off or at least weaken the severity of these viruses.
  • Protection for friends/family. If a senior gets influenza or pneumonia, those who come in contact with the senior are at risk of catching it. Getting the vaccines can help protect those who are close to seniors and reduce the chance of spreading these diseases.
  • It’s free. Medicare pays 100% of the cost of influenza and pneumococcal vaccines for Medicare beneficiaries. For people not covered by Medicare, state health departments often offer free vaccines.
  • It’s accessible. In most states, immunizations for adults can be administered by pharmacists in a community pharmacy. Many people find this is a convenient way to get their immunizations.