Senior citizens are particularly susceptible to seasonal influenza. Most hospitalizations and deaths from the seasonal flu occur in people over the age of 65 who have underlying medical conditions. If you're over 65 and become ill with flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away to determine if you should begin treatment with anti-viral medication.
Seek emergency care if you become ill and experience any of the following warning signs:
- difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
- pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
- sudden dizziness
- severe or persistent vomiting
Pneumonia is one of the secondary illnesses that can result from a flu infection -- it's the leading killer of seniors who contract the flu. According to a recent report by the Trust for America's Health, Infectious Diseases Society of America and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Oregon leads the nation in vaccinating seniors against pneumonia, at 73 percent. Health officials recommend that anyone age 65 or older be vaccinated against pneumonia. (The CDC offers more information about the pneumonia vaccine here.)
The study also showed that 70 percent of seniors and 43 percent of adults age 50-64 received seasonal flu vaccines in 2008. You can help seniors who are close to you by making sure they have an opportunity to get a flu shot.
Health officials recommend that everyone get a seasonal flu shot. (Nasal spray vaccine isn't recommended for people 50, or over.) The flu shot protects you and those around you. It's safe, and you can't get influenza from the vaccine. If you haven't received your flu shot already, it's not too late to get it, as the flu continues to circulate year-round.
Use our Flu Vaccine Finder to find where and when to get your flu vaccination.