by the National Institute on Aging
The flu is very contagious. It spreads from person to person, often just through the air. Regular hand washing and avoiding sick people can help, and so can the flu shot. Flu season is upon us, but it’s not too late to get the shot!
There are special flu shots designed specifically for people age 65 and older. Medicare will pay for the shot, and so will many private health insurance plans. You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or from your local health department. Many grocery or drug stores also offer flu shots. The vaccine is the same wherever you receive it.
A flu shot won’t keep everyone healthy. But, getting the flu shot every year can mean that if you do get the flu, you might have only a mild case.
Each winter, millions of people suffer from seasonal flu. Flu—the short name for influenza—is caused by viruses. Viruses are very small germs. Some viruses can spread easily from one person to another. They cause illnesses or infections like the flu.older woman with the flu blowing her nose
Flu is a mild illness for some people. For older people, especially those who have health problems like diabetes or heart disease, the flu can be very serious, even life-threatening.
Most people who get the flu feel much better in a week or two. But, some people can get very sick. For example, because your body is busy fighting off the flu, you might pick up a second infection. Older people are at great risk of these secondary infections, such as pneumonia.
Getting a flu shot every year can help you stay healthy. A flu shot contains the flu vaccine, which could keep you from getting the flu. There are special flu shots designed specifically for people age 65 and older. Medicare will pay for the shot, and so will many private health insurance plans. You can get a flu shot at your doctor’s office or from your local health department. Sometimes grocery or drug stores offer flu shots.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), part of the Federal Government, says that people age 50 and older should get a flu shot every year. Anyone who lives with or takes care of people age 50 and older should also have a flu shot every year.
If you get the flu, there are things you can do to feel better.
If you are sick, try to rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids, like juice and water but not alcohol. Medicine such as acetaminophen can bring down your fever, which might help with the aches and pains. It is important not to smoke if you are sick with the flu. It is a respiratory illness that can infect your lungs, as well as your nasal passages. These same areas are also bothered by smoking. Take it easy as much as you can until you are well.