Flu vaccines are highly recommended for people 65 and older

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SHAFAQNA – In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that estimated that annual deaths caused at least in part by flu ranged from a low of about 3,000 to as many of 49,000 over a 30-year period. And statistics say that 90 percent of those who died were 65 or older, a group that also accounts for 60 percent of flu hospitalizations each year. That’s why Eldersource and the city of Jacksonville have been partnering with the National Council on Aging’s Flu + You program to urge adult 65 or older to get flu vaccinations. Last year, only 52 percent of the approximately 97,000 people 65 or older in Duval County were vaccinated, said Vickie Prince, a family physician with St. Vincent’s Primary Care.

With very few exceptions, flu vaccines are recommended for anyone older than six months, Prince said.

“Even pregnant women can be vaccinated,” Prince said.

But vaccinations are particularly important as people age and their immune systems are compromised. Prince said 86 percent of people over 65 have at least one chronic condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, asthma or COPD; 68 percent have two or more such conditions. Flu can aggravate those conditions.

Most doctors and pharmacists are recommending that people 65 or older not only get an annual flu shot, they are recommending they get a new high-dose flu shot to help them build antibodies against flu, Prince said.

“They should get it as soon as it is available,” she said.

Many primary care physicians can provide vaccinations, which also are available at most pharmacies.

For more information, go to ncoa.org/flu.

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