As the senior director at Northern Area Multi-Service Center, I consider it my job to help keep our community members healthy, which is why I want all Pittsburgh-area residents to understand the importance of getting their annual flu vaccination, especially for anyone aged 65 or older. No matter how healthy or youthful we feel, our immune system weakens with age, leaving us at greater risk for the flu, which is why vaccination is crucial.
Unfortunately, the likelihood of developing other chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, also increases with age, and having an underlying chronic condition further raises the risk of influenza-related death.
Adults 65 or older have two options for vaccination: the traditional flu shot and a higher dose flu shot designed for this age group. Both options are covered by Medicare Part B with no copay. You should speak with a health care provider to determine which option best suits your needs.
I joined the National Council on Aging's Flu + You campaign to help educate community members about the severity of the flu. Older adults and their caregivers need to know that people 65 and older are more vulnerable to influenza and its related complications. In fact, this age group accounts for 90 percent of flu-related deaths and roughly 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year.
The best protection against the flu is vaccination, and I want to remind all older adults and those who care about them to protect themselves this season.