Influenza, sometimes called the flu may seem like an inconvenient short-term illness for many, but for seniors, it can be life-threatening. The devastating impact of the pandemic has taught us the importance of doing everything possible to protect seniors not only from COVID-19, but also from seasonal respiratory illnesses like the flu.  Seniors generally have a heightened susceptibility to influenza related complications due to natural and progressive weakening of the immune system over time known as immunosenescence. This can also render seniors less responsive to the standard dose influenza vaccine.

Seasonal influenza can have a long-lasting impact on seniors, who are at an increased risk for serious complications including the worsening of existing chronic conditions, hospitalization and death. The flu has been shown to increase the risk of a first heart attack 10 times in the first three days post- infection, and the risk of stroke can increase by three to eight times. For those hospitalized, the risk of flu-related death is five times greater for seniors with chronic heart diseases, increases 12 times for seniors with chronic lung diseases, and further increases a remarkable 20 times for seniors with both chronic heart and lung conditions.

“Despite COVID-19 still circulating in Canada, we have evolved to a stage of endemic infection. In this context, it is reasonable to relax public health restrictions, and return to many of our usual activities, getting together with friends and family, dining out and traveling. However, we must still remember to practice behaviours that will keep us safer in this COVID world,” says Dr. Brian Conway, Medical Director, Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre. “Our first line of defense was (and still is) immunization. This includes seniors, who are also at higher risk of not only COVID-19 but also influenza and its potential complications. That’s why it is important that seniors get their flu shot, which can help reduce the risk of influenza illness and its complications.”

FLUZONE® High-Dose Quadrivalent is a vaccine especially formulated for those 65 years and older to help prevent influenza. It protects against four strains of the flu virus. Talk to your healthcare provider about a high dose vaccine and contact your Public Health officials to find out if it’s covered for you in your province. Help protect yourself when flu season hits.

Vaccination does not provide 100% protection and does not treat influenza and / or its complications or prevent hospitalization or death. Learn more about high dose flu vaccines and where to get them at fluzone.ca.

Author

route65@engageseniors.ca
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