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It's Not Too Late to Avoid the Flu!

Posted on 12/04/18 by Leah Miller, AARP Blog Author

2017-2018 was a high severity flu season with record breaking levels of influenza illness, hospitalization rates and reported pediatric deaths. The best protection against flu is getting a flu vaccine.

While the timing of flu season is unpredictable, seasonal flu activity often begins to increase in October, most commonly peaks between December and February, but can last as late as May. CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older get a flu vaccine by the end of October, but it’s not too late to get vaccinated!

People 65 years and older are at a higher risk of getting seriously ill from flu, due to a weakening of the immune system that can happen with age. During most flu seasons, people 65 years and older bear the greatest burden of severe flu disease. In fact, it is estimated that between 70-85% of flu-related deaths and 50-70% of flu-related hospitalizations occur among people in this age group.

Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce flu illness and serious outcomes. A 2017 study showed that flu vaccination reduced deaths, intensive care unit admissions (and length of stay), and overall duration of hospitalization among hospitalized flu patients 65 years and older.

Steps to avoid becoming ill with influenza:

  1. Visit your local clinician, pharmacy, or community flu vaccination event to receive your influenza vaccination.
  2. Prevent the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and water (or alcohol-based hand gel), not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth, and covering your cough or sneeze (into your elbow).
  3. If you become ill, stay home while sick and take antiviral drugs if prescribed by your doctor.

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