It's not too late to grab a flu jab...
We have all experienced the flu and know how horrible it can feel. As our immune systems weaken with age, the flu can be dangerous for the elderly. It is very easy to forget about the importance of getting the flu vaccination. So here is a quick reminder to make sure you or your elderly loved ones get a winter flu jab…
Protecting yourself against flu
Although it doesn’t provide 100% protection, the flu vaccine is your first line of defence. It is available free of charge from the NHS for:
- those over the age of 65
- pregnant women
- people with an underlying health condition (particularly heart, respiratory or diabetes)
- people with weak immune systems
- people living in a residential or nursing home
- those who care for someone whose health may be at risk (family carers and healthcare professionals)
The groups above are more likely to develop serious complications from having the flu, such as lung infections like pneumonia.
The flu jab is available free on the NHS from September onwards. It’s recommended to have the vaccine between September and November, though it’s not too late to get one done now.
The flu vaccine is also given free on the NHS as an annual injection to:
- adults over the age of 18 at risk of flu (including everyone aged 65 and over)
- children aged six months to two years at risk of flu
Why is the flu dangerous for the elderly?
Those over 65 are at a higher risk because they have reduced immunity to illnesses.
The flu in elderly people is particularly dangerous as it can develop into serious complications such as pneumonia. This can be treated with antibiotics, but in some cases can become life-threatening.
What to do if you, or a loved one, catches flu
Flu symptoms tend to be more severe than the common cold. Things to look out for include a combination of:
- sudden high temperature
- general aches and pains
- sore throat
Most people fully recover from the flu within a week. However, those in the ‘at risk’ category above are more likely to experience complications.
Spot symptoms early
Antiviral medication reduces the symptoms of flu in elderly people and shortens the duration of the illness. The problem is, to be effective, treatment needs to start shortly after flu symptoms first appear. So it’s important that if an elderly person encounters flu like symptoms that they see a GP immediately. Don’t wait to see if it is just a cold!