Flu Shot Advice for People Over 65

Flu season is upon us and medical professionals are advising the public to get their flu shot "the earlier, the better." In a recent blog post for The Huffington Post titled The Best Time to Get a Flu Shot is Now, Dr. Brian S. Koll, MD, provided additional advice for those 65 years and older:

"People 65 years of age or older should get a high-dose vaccine specially designed for their age group, as it induces a stronger immune response. Some older people are under the impression that they should wait until the end of October or even November to get vaccinated. But this is neither necessary nor recommended because it might result in missing chances to be vaccinated, or forgetting altogether."

"The way flu shots work is another reason not to wait. The vaccine protects against the flu virus by establishing “memory” cells, which start to develop two to three weeks after you are vaccinated. When you are later exposed to flu, these memory cells make the antibodies that your body needs to protect itself. In theory, immunity wanes three to four months after vaccination, but that’s only if you’re not exposed to the flu virus during that time. In practice, if you are vaccinated in September, say, and the flu virus is circulating from November through February, your memory cells are constantly being reminded to maintain immunity, extending the vaccine’s effectiveness."

"However, memory cells don’t remember forever, and flu viruses change from year to year. That is why the vaccine formulation is updated each year and why it’s important to get vaccinated annually," said Dr. Koll, Executive Medical Director for Infection Prevention and Control, for The Mount Sanai Health System.

Read the full article: The Best Time to Get a Flu Shot is Now