Protecting Elders: Why seniors need the flu shot

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We recently received an email from our doctor’s office about their upcoming flu clinic that was happening this month and I immediately blocked off time to take in my kids after work. Two years ago, my son got the flu and my mom got it shortly after and it was awful. It’s so important to us to have everyone including the elders in our family vaccinated. Both my husband and I work in large institutions during the day and getting protected is just part of our routine. Because our parents don’t all work and don’t have access to flu clinics as conveniently as we do, we make sure to check in to see if they’ve made their appointments too.

Recently, masalamommas attended a National Seniors Day event focusing on the importance of the flu vaccine for seniors which really drove home the point that seniors are particularly vulnerable to the flu. The event featured a larger-than-life photo exhibit which celebrated the ongoing contribution of seniors in our country, while also raising awareness of the burden of the flu, the domino effect it can have on the lives of older Canadians and the importance of protecting seniors, keeping them active, healthy and independent as they age.

Listening to the speakers at the event, one thing became abundantly clear: when we think about healthy ageing, this doesn’t just mean eating well and exercising, but also means taking the necessary precautions to stay well – and that includes getting vaccinated.

As Marissa Lennox, Chief Policy Officer at CARP explained, one of the biggest fears they hear from seniors talk about is the fear of losing their independence and becoming dependent on others to look after them.

“Influenza is one of the leading causes of disability and declines in older adults,” she said. “Coupled with other chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, there’s a risk of a domino effect resulting in serious complications, even fatal.”

Luckily, where we live, Ontario is actually the only province to offer the more effective, higher dose vaccine free to all adults 65+. Only some seniors across Canada can access the higher dose vaccine (e.g. those in Ontario), but all seniors deserve the best chance at protection.

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to influenza, says Dr. Muscedere, Scientific Director at Canadian Frailty Network. “As you get older your immune system isn’t as active as when you’re young which means you’re more at risk of contracting the flu and unable to fight it off. Because you’re then at a reduced state of function, if you’re in bed for a period of time, you may not recover as well.” He adds as you get older, you’ll have more chronic health conditions as well that can impact your ability to recover from the flu.

There are several misconceptions about the flu vaccine and we spoke to Dr. Muscedere at this event about this. He explained one of the most common myths he hears:

Myth: You will get the flu from the vaccination

Fact: You cannot get the flu from the vaccine. “Some people get a mild reaction from it, but it’s a sign that their immune system is responding as it should to the vaccine and they’re building up immunity. Any symptoms are easily treatable with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.”

For more information on the influenza vaccine visit: fluzone.ca

 

This content was sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur. As always, opinions are my own.

 


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