Dear Dr. Dineen:
My 87-year old mother moved in with us this past summer. She is still fairly active and independent but just wasn’t safe on her own any longer. I’m trying to convince her to get a flu shot. Since she had it last year, she doesn’t want to get it again. Mom thinks if she gets it every few years she will be fine.
My concern this year is that now that she is living with us, she will be around many more people than she is used to coming in contact with during flu season. We have three teenagers and their friends are here all the time. I think it will increase the likelihood of her getting sick if she won’t get the flu vaccine.
Should I keep trying to convince her or is it really only necessary to get the shot every few years?
The best way to prevent being bitten by the flu bug is to have a flu shot every fall. October or early November are the best times to receive the vaccine.
For older adults, like your mother, the flu shot is a must.
Seniors sometimes hesitate to get the vaccine because they mistakenly think it will give them a mild case of the flu. Others think the vaccine really doesn’t change much from year to year so they don’t need it as often. Both myths can result in a senior getting a life-threatening case of the flu that requires hospitalization.
Flu Shots Can Help
These statistics might help you convince your mother to be vaccinated:
- 90% of flu-related deaths and over half of flu-related hospitalizations each year are people who are over the age of 65.
- A flu shot helps prevent as many as 60,000 seniors from being admitted to hospitals every flu season, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A flu shot is an easy, preventative measure that can help a senior from becoming a statistic this flu season.
A resource I like to share with patients who want to know more about flu season and how to stay protected is from the Department of Health & Human Services. Visit the Seniors page on Flu.gov to learn more.