A challenge to older Americans: Take the flu seriously

For New Pittsburgh Courier

(BPT)—Alice Vaught skipped her flu shot one season. That was the year she got the flu. “I felt like I was dying. Within a couple hours I was unable to move. It came on so quickly, and I wasn’t aware of how severe it was.”

Unfortunately, the flu often strikes quickly and without warning, potentially leading to severe and sometimes life-threatening health problems. It’s an infectious disease that must be taken seriously—especially by those who are most vulnerable.

Flu can take a terrible toll

Anyone can get the flu. However, some people have an increased risk of flu and flu-related complications, including young children, pregnant women, adults 50 years of age and older, and people living with chronic health conditions, such as lung or heart disease, diabetes and cancer. This comprises a significant number of people. In fact, 70 percent of adults ages 50 to 64 have at least one chronic illness according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flu can disrupt everyday life

The CDC estimates that the flu virus causes between 9 million and 49 million flu-related illnesses each year. It can worsen symptoms of respiratory disorders, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Vaccination is the best way to help protect against the flu. Health officials recommend all people ages 6 months and older, with rare exception, get vaccinated each year. This is particularly important for adults 50 years of age and older. That’s why the American Lung Association launched the MyShot campaign in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur. The initiative empowers older adults to ask their healthcare providers about which flu shot options may help offer a greater level of protection against the flu based on their age and chronic health conditions.

It’s not too late to get your shot. Vaccination throughout the fall and winter—and even into the spring—can help protect against the flu while the virus is circulating.

If you or someone you love is 50 years of age or older, go to GetMyShot.org to learn more and speak with your healthcare provider about flu shot options that may be right for you.

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