Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Why Should Older Americans Get Flu Shots?

Photo by Phil Noble/Reuters

This story originally appeared on AskMen.

By Michael Roberts

As I lived next door to the hospital, all the time hearing about kids being transferred between wards, to scan other units, I slowly learned the hard way what sort of dose of flu vaccine seemed just right. I may not have a lot of family history of the flu, but I also didn’t really have any on the horizon, so I knew if I were to get the shot, I could try to fight off the virus as long as I could.

The available vaccines for adults over the age of 50 had always seemed a little on the low side, but there were no rules about just how large a dose of the nasal or vaccine options was wise to get. I had itchy but pretty normal knees, so a flu shot wasn’t something I needed, but I also didn’t want to be on my back for 24 hours with a virus, which is what antibiotics do. As it turned out, a flu shot was pretty safe. Then I got invited to a primary care clinic that had one on hand– the first I’d ever gotten. They advised me to skip the shots for the first few years and watch instead. I didn’t do it; soon, I had a required flu shot every year.

Adults Over 50 Should Remember To Take Part In The Flu Vaccine

As I looked around the clinic, it seemed like most women who hadn’t had the shot were over the age of 55. I got a little jittery when I saw that out of the first six patients, only one was over 55. Should I have a little sneak attack while I still can? But I passed. I don’t even have a cold, so it wasn’t like I was ever in that category.

Just one– older than 50– man was being given the flu shot, which struck me as odd. Nowadays, most doctors’ offices will suggest all or part of the yearly vaccination for those over 65, or over 70. For them, it’s not only about not catching the flu, but avoiding the health problems that often follow a virus infection. We may not know exactly what to expect, but since we’ve had a bad infection, we have a pretty good idea of what’s in store.

But once we have a bad infection and experience the worst flu symptoms that come along with it, we still want protection. In retrospect, our visits to the clinic were more a matter of precaution than anything, and I’m very glad that we got the shot. That was in 2006, and aside from a few minor flare-ups since then, I still feel good. I have no idea whether I got the shot because I had a real case of the flu or not. I do know that in New Jersey, it’s considered the flu if you miss 5 days of work, so this is probably why.

It makes me a little crazy to think about it now, but I wish I had gotten the shot back in ’06, before I lost four days of work and went to the ER. But I’m so glad that I did. These days, I’m the VP of Communications at a medical company in New Jersey.

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