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Life in Motion

Who Should Get the Flu Shot?

Health & Prevention

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness. Brian Hollenbeck, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease at NEBH, explains that most people who get the flu will recover in about a week, but some people can develop complications as a result of flu, some of which can be life-threatening. In the winter of 2017-2018, the CDC reported more than 80,000 deaths from influenza. The majority of severe illness and death (90%) is seen in individuals over 65 years of age. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, and lower risk of hospitalization or death from influenza.

When you get a flu shot, you’re not just protecting yourself, you are helping to protect those who are more vulnerable to complications from the flu, including:

  • Individuals over age 65
  • Children under age 5
  • Pregnant women
  • People with chronic conditions such as asthma or heart disease
  • People with impaired immune systems (such as from cancer)

A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone over 6 months of age (except those medically unable to have it).  If you are over 65 years of age, ask your doctor about getting a high-dose flu vaccine, which may provide additional benefit to you.  If you have questions about the flu shot, make sure to talk to your doctor.

Additional reading:
www.mass.gov/influenza
www.cdc.gov/flu/about/index.html

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