Flu season is back, and people 65 years and older are at greater risk of serious complications from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to data from the CDC, it’s estimated between 70 percent and 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in people 65 years and older, and between 54 percent and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations have occurred among people in that age group.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recommends Medicare beneficiaries get their flu vaccine each year because the virus changes from year to year.
The vaccine is free for people with Medicare, once per flu season, as long as the health care provider accepts Medicare.
The seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. There are several flu vaccine options for the 2018-2019 flu season.
Although getting vaccinated each year is important prevent the flu, the CDC recommends the following health habits to avoid catching the flu:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. Flu and other serious respiratory illnesses, like respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), whooping cough and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are spread by cough, sneezing or unclean hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick.
- If possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.
- Wash your hands often. That will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.