Updated 07:35 AM EDT, Mon, Sep 16, 2019

Flu Shots for Adults Under 65 May Protect Seniors As Well [Study]

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During the flu season, it's practically a no-brainer to get flu shots, after all, nobody wants to stay tired in bed the whole day, right? But did you know that by getting flu shots, you're not only helping yourself, but the senior citizen in your home as well?

Reuters reported that in a new analysis of a nationwide US data, the odds of having a flu-related illness were 21% lower among seniors living in places with the highest flu vaccination rates among people between 18 to 64 years old.

This suggests that vaccination against flu has the potential to prevent up to 5.9% of influenza diagnoses in seniors.

"Our study suggests that adults who have contact with the elderly should make a particular effort to receive an influenza vaccine. This includes both people who have elderly relatives in their households and people who have routine contact with the elderly," Lead researched of Clinical Infectious Diseases Glen B Taksler said. 

"Our findings may help reframe the public image around flu vaccines, offering a positive context because getting vaccinated seems to help other people in the community," he added.

As Pharmacy Practice News noted, the elderly are more susceptible to flu, considering that their immune systems are already weaker with age. "These higher-risk people have a limited ability to protect themselves from influenza, because flu vaccines are less effective in the elderly and in people with weakened immune systems," Taksler said.

In the last few years, between 80% to 90% of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-related hospitalizations have occurred to seniors over 65 years of age, which is why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone over 6 months of age should get annual flu vaccinations.

As basic as that is, NBC News said that fewer than half of Americans actually get the required annual flu immunization, and out of all these numbers, CDC data showed that vaccination rates were highest for children between 6 months to 23 months of age, at almost 75% getting their required vaccination. However, adults between the ages 18 to 49 seem to forgo the required annual dose.

In an email, Dr Michael L Jackson of Group Health Research Institute in Seattle said about the findings, "Previous studies have shown that vaccinating school-aged children can reduce rates of influenza infection in adults. This study by Taksler and colleagues provides evidence that vaccination of non-senior adults also provides modest 'herd immunity' benefits to seniors."

So go get your shots, you just might save a life.

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