Help Keep the Flu From In­ter­fer­ing With Your Plans This Win­ter

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It can start with the chills, fever, snif­fles or body aches: but for se­niors over 65, in­fluenza can be a deadly dis­ease lead­ing to lengthy hospi­tal­iza­tions and life-al­ter­ing com­pli­ca­tions. Dur­ing flu sea­son, se­niors are at greater risk of devel­op­ing se­ri­ous and last­ing health is­sues. In fact, 88 per cent of flu-re­lated deaths in Canada last sea­son oc­curred in peo­ple 65 years and older, with this age group ac­count­ing for 67 per cent of flu-re­lated hospi­tal­iza­tions.


“Spe­cial­ized flu vac­cines can in­crease the an­ti­body re­sponse in high-risk pop­u­la­tions, and have been used suc­cess­fully in long-term care fa­cil­i­ties in Canada,” says Dr. Shelly McNeil, Chief of the Di­vi­sion of In­fec­tious Dis­ease at the Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity and re­searcher at the Cana­dian Cen­tre for Vac­ci­nol­ogy.

The best way to pre­vent in­fluenza in all Cana­di­ans is to get a stan­dard flu shot. For se­niors over the age of 65, Health Canada has au­tho­rized for sale spe­cial­ized vac­cines – which in­clude both high-dose vac­cine FLUZONE ® and ad­ju­vanted vac­cine FLUAD ® . These flu vac­cines are specif­i­cally-de­signed to boost im­mune re­sponse to the vac­cine in se­niors over 65. “Flu vac­cines in gen­eral, in­clud­ing spe­cial­ized ver­sions, can be part of a healthy ag­ing strat­egy and pre­ven­ta­tive health mea­sure for se­niors.” Flu-re­lated hospi­tal­iza­tions and com­pli­ca­tions among adults over 65 can be detri­men­tal to longevity and fu­ture health. About one third of older adults who are hos­pi­tal­ized will not re­turn to their pre­vi­ous level of daily func­tion or in­de­pen­dence, says Dr. McNeil, which can have sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic im­pacts on an in­di­vid­ual, as well as the health care sys­tem in gen­eral.


Spe­cial­ized vac­cines for se­niors over 65 are avail­able in Canada this flu sea­son – ask your doc­tor about whether a spe­cial­ized flu vac­cine is right for you or visit se­­ucts/FLUAD.htm for more in­for­ma­tion.

The most com­mon ad­verse events for FLUAD are in­jec­tion site pain and ten­der­ness; some peo­ple may ex­pe­ri­ence mus­cle pain, headache and fa­tigue. FLUAD only pro­tects against those strains of in­fluenza that are con­tained in the vac­cine. Vac­ci­na­tion does not pro­vide 100 per cent pro­tec­tion. FLUAD can­not pre­vent com­pli­ca­tions, hos­pi­tal­iza­tion or death af­ter the on­set of dis­ease.

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