Educating Seniors On Flu Vaccine: Majority Believe Flu Shot Is Dangerous

December 30th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

People age 65 and older are one of the most at-risk groups for contracting the flu or developing health complications from it. However, this group is also one of the most resistant to getting the flu vaccine. 

A survey conducted by Forum Research found that although 57 percent of Canadian citizens got the flu vaccine this year, 39 percent of those who didn't chose not to because they rarely get the flu. Additionally, 17 percent of those who declined did so because they believed the shot was ineffective, and another 15 percent opted out because they believe the shot causes diseases.

"Unfortunately, it is the oldest who are also most likely to believe vaccines cause rather than prevent disease," said president of Forum Research Dr. Lorne Bozinoff in an interview with the Ottawa Sun.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization, working for the Public Health Agency of Canada, recommends influenza vaccination for all individuals age 6 months and older, and with particular focus on individuals at high-risk of developing complications from the flu or hospitalization, which includes seniors. It continues to maintain that vaccination is "the safest, longest-lasting and most effective way to prevent influenza."

It is important that seniors understand the benefits of the flu vaccine and the implications of vaccination.

Risks and transmission
As people age, the immune systems become weaker, making one especially vulnerable to diseases. The flu is spread extremely easily from one person to another, and people can spread the flu before showing noticeable symptoms. Sneezing, coughing, bodily contact and touching commonly used items like telephones and doorknobs can spread the virus. It takes between one and four days for symptoms to appear after coming into contact with the virus.

The flu can cause serious complications for the elderly. One of the most common, and most dangerous, of these is pneumonia. Between 200,000 and 300,000 people in Canada develop pneumonia each year, with a mortality rate that can be as high as 30 percent. This infectious disease of the lungs is the sixth most frequent cause of death in modern industrialized countries. Half of all pneumonia cases are caused by viruses, and symptoms appear suddenly and worsen quickly. While most viral pneumonia are contained and do not spread to the rest of the body, some cases caused by the flu virus are severe and can result in death. The health risks are even greater for the elderly suffering from respiratory diseases.

Vaccination recommendations 
The best protection against the flu is the flu vaccine. You cannot get the flu from the shot, and reactions to it are very rare. Each year, a flu vaccine is released that is specially designed to combat the specific influenza viruses that are believed to be the most prevalent that season.

Seniors should get a new vaccine every year, since the effectiveness wears off and the predominant influenza viruses change from year to year. Your health care provider can administer the vaccine, or you can get it done at a public health clinic or pharmacy.

Possible flu shot benefits
There is some research that shows that the flu vaccine might help prevent other health conditions. Findings by a research team at McMaster University in Hamilton said that regular vaccination can ward off the development of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and dementia, reported CBC News. These and other diseases are exacerbated by inflammation caused by the flu and other respiratory diseases, which the researches maintain doesn't fully disappear.

The team's research - which tested mice - found that old mice that never received the flu vaccine contracted other diseases sooner than their vaccinated counterparts, and, when they did get the flu, the development of those diseases was sped up. While the healthy mice had received the vaccine earlier in life, the researchers believe the results still show that the flu vaccine can help protect the body.

"It's a terrible cycle where once you start getting these respiratory infections, they often precipitate and make you more susceptible to more infections and more of this chronic inflammatory disease," said Prof. Dawn Bowdish. "Every year we invest in a vaccination is a year we invest in good health late in life."

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

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