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Influenza and Older Adults

Older adult coupleInfluenza (flu) can be serious for everyone – but for adults age 65 years and older, the risk of flu-related complications and hospitalization is particularly high.

Immune systems decline as adults age. Older adults are at higher risk of serious flu and flu-related complications including pneumonia and hospitalization. But there are also other risks that may not be as obvious—flu increases the risk of heart attack by 3-5 times and stroke by 2-3 times in the first 2 weeks of infection for those 65+. The risk remains elevated for several months. This all adds up to a six-times higher risk of dying from flu and related complication if you are age 65 years or older. Getting your flu vaccine lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Annual influenza vaccination is recommended to help prevent flu and flu-related complications. Certain vaccines are available to help boost immune response specifically in adults age 65 years and older. Health experts say all flu vaccines provide protection, so do not delay if your first choice of vaccine is not available.


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