(NC) It can be easy to think that because you and your family never get sick, you are safe from the flu. But you should know that viruses and germs spread through our everyday interactions, and no matter how much we wash our hands, sometimes we can pass them on. The influenza virus is no different — it can unknowingly be passed on through droplets from sneezing or coughing. The best way to protect yourself, your loved ones and your neighbours is by getting an annual flu shot.
Though healthy adults can fight off the flu, seniors and other vulnerable populations may not have the immune response to fight back. These vulnerable groups include children under five years old, pregnant women, people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, people age 65 and over, and people with existing health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and obesity.
An average of around 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized and approximately 3,500 die due to influenza-related complications each year, making influenza a major public health concern. Canadian seniors account for up to 70 per cent of total flu-related hospitalizations and up to 90 per cent of total flu-related deaths. While most people can recover from influenza in as few as seven days, seniors generally take longer to recover, and may be at higher risk of developing more severe complications.
Fortunately there are preventative measures that Canadian seniors can take to help ensure they are protected against the flu, including getting a high-dose influenza vaccine specifically designed for seniors. The Canadian National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recognized this high-dose vaccine’s improved protection against influenza and greater immune response in seniors than the regular influenza vaccines. This vaccine is only available to seniors if they pay for it as it is not yet covered by the provinces. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if this vaccine is right for you.
Find more information and ways to help ensure this new flu vaccine developed for seniors is publicly funded at www.carp.ca.