AS THE SUMMER MONTHS wind down and Labor Day fasts approaches, it is almost a rite of passage that we begin to notice the promotion of flu vaccine availability. But exactly who needs to be concerned about getting a vaccine and protecting themselves against this disease that could prove fatal?
The recommendation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is that every person 6 months and older receives an annual flu vaccine. Ideally, getting vaccinated should occur as soon as the shots become available. (In fact, most vaccine manufacturers have already shipped the 2015-2016 doses to healthcare providers and pharmacies.) If people follow the CDC’s suggestion, vaccination is the best advice in preventing the spread of the flu, followed closely by washing your hands and staying home from work and school if you happen to come down with the flu.
As we age, vaccination against the flu is even more important due weakening immune systems. Unfortunately, older people are more likely to develop flu complications, which are then responsible for a large number of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. Additionally, chronic health problems can worsen when the flu is present. For instance, an individual with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may experience more severe shortness of breath.
According to the CDC, the 2014-2015 flu season was particularly harsh on older Americans. From October 2014 to April 2015, there were approximately 322 flu-related hospitalizations per 100,000 in adults 65 or older, which was the highest rate in a decade.
This column is sponsored by Good Shepherd Hospice. At Good Shepherd Hospice, every day is devoted to educating our patients and keeping them healthy and as comfortable as possible in the place they call home. We are dedicated to ensuring that patients and their families have the tools to make educated decisions about important healthcare matters. For more information, please call 1-800-544-3280 or visit us at chaptershealth.org/hospice.
column by DR. JOSE FERNANDEZ-SEMIDEY
BIO: Board certified in family medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, Dr. Jose Fernandez-Semidey received his medical degree from Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico, completed his internship and residency at Southwest Georgia Family Medicine Residency in Albany, Georgia, along with a fellowship in palliative medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2009, Dr. Fernandez joined Chapters Health and serves the Polk County community as a physician with Good Shepherd Hospice and Chapters Health Palliative Care.