As a person ages, their immune system weakens, in turn making them more susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia and the flu, according toÂ Flu.gov. With 47 states currently reporting widespread flu, the 2012-2013 flu season is likely nearing its peak. And seniors are at the greatest risk: 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than half of flu-realted hospitalizations occur in people 65 and older.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends gettings a flu shot every year and offers the following information on the 2012-2013 flu season.
According to the government, this season’s vaccine is a good match for the circulating strains of the flu, being 62 percent effective. The CDC notes that getting a vaccine every year is the first and most important step in protecting against influenza. For the current season, more than 128 million doses of vaccine have been produced as of January 4, 2013. So it’s safe to say local pharmacies and health clinics won’t be running out any time soon.
Besides getting a flu shot, the CDC recommends regularly washing hands with soap and to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Also, practice proper cough etiquette and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Most people who come down with the flu experience mild symptoms that require them to stay home for a day or two and rest. Those with severe symptoms, common with the elderly, should see a doctor to receive antiviral drugs, medications or other treatments to relieve symptoms.
Other notes from the latest CDC report
- The CDC recommends people get vaccinated even if they’ve already gotten sick with the flu. The main reason for this is that many people who get sick think they have the flu but do not — there are other flu-like illnesses going around this season as well, mainly respiratory viruses. Also, the seasonal flu vaccine generally protects against three types of flu viruses that research suggests will be most common, meaning it will protect you from other strains you haven’t been exposed to yet.
- It’s possible to still get the flu even though you’ve gotten vaccinated.
- Suffering from the flu can lead to other complications, such as pneumonia. That’s why it’s especially important for elderly persons and those with weakened immune systems to get vaccinated every year.
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