Flu Shot Important For High Risk Groups
October 2, 2019 | View PDF
Though everyone is at some risk of contracting the flu, there are some people who are at a higher risk of both contracting the flu, and getting serious, flu-related complications.
People who are at high risk of contracting influenza include children younger than 5 years old, and especially those who are younger than 2. Every year, thousands of children are hospitalized due to the flu, and some children die from the flu. Children are more likely to experience serious, often life-threatening influenza complications, including pneumonia and inflammation affecting several different organs. The flu vaccine is available for children 6 months and older.
Adults aged 65 and older, and especially those who reside in nursing homes or another long-term care facility, are also at greater risk of serious flu-related complications. The population 65 years and older typically bear the greatest burden of severe flu illness, accounting for about 75% of flu-related deaths and up to 70% of flu-related hospitalizations. The body’s immune system tends to naturally decline over time, making those aged 65 and older more susceptible to the flu, and less likely to be able to fight it off than younger adults. A high-dose version of the flu shot is available for folks over 65, which is associated with a stronger immune response to fend off the flu and better flu outcomes than with the standard vaccine.
Any person who lives with certain medical conditions, including asthma, neurological conditions, heart disease, lung disease, blood, organ or metabolic disorders, and those with a weakened immune system are also are high risk of flu-related complications. This also includes pregnant women. In these cases, the body’s immune system isn’t as readily available to fight the flu because the body is focused on the medical condition or growing a healthy baby. The flu vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women. Check with your doctor for vaccine recommendations for your specific medical condition.
Likewise, if you are living with or the caretaker for someone who is in any of these categories, protecting yourself from the flu is especially important. The flu virus can be spread when a sick person sneezes, coughs or talks, or spread by surfaces shared by both sick and healthy people, like doorknobs and bathroom faucet handles.
The single most effective way to protect yourself from the flu and flu-related complications is to receive the flu vaccine.
The Richland County Health Department offers the standard flu vaccine for those aged 6 months and older, as well as high-dose vaccine for those aged 65 and older. The Mass Flu Shot Clinic will be held on Thursday, October 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid will be billed for those who bring their insurance cards. No appointment is needed for the Mass Flu Shot Clinic on October 3. Clinic paperwork is available on the day of the clinic, or can be downloaded at http://www.richland.org or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RichlandCounty Health Department.