Living Well: Calling all seniors! It’s time for a flu shot | CraigDailyPress.com

Living Well: Calling all seniors! It’s time for a flu shot

Did you know that your age puts you at a higher risk for serious complications of the flu? That's because your immune system weakens as you age. In order to protect yourself, plan to get a flu shot this fall for best coverage.

"All seniors ages 65 or older should receive a high-dose flu shot. They can come into the MRH Walk-in Clinic or schedule an appointment with a nurse. Medicare covers the shot," said Aimee Haskins, RN, Medicare ACO coordinator with Memorial Regional Health.

The high dose shot provides stronger protection against the flu than the regular flu shot. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the high-dose vaccine is designed specifically for those 65 or older and contains four times the amount of antigen than the regular shot. It has been available since 2009.

"It's a common misperception that the flu shot gives you the flu. It doesn't. There's a chance you might be a little sore or achy after getting the shot, but it's simply a mild side effect of the shot itself," Haskins said.

Once you've had the flu, it's hard to forget. At first, the flu mimics the common cold, with a sore throat, runny nose and sneezing. The difference is, the flu comes on fast, hits hard and lasts longer — one to two weeks — while a cold is generally slower to show and milder. According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of the flu include fever; aching muscles, especially in the back, arms and legs; chills and sweats; headache; dry cough; fatigue and weakness; and nasal congestion.

"It's also important for older adults to get a pneumococcal shot. Once you get the two required vaccines, each a year apart, you are immune from bacterial pneumonia for life," Haskins said.

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Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be mild to severe. Seniors are at greater risk, as they may have weakened immune systems and a lower ability to clear secretions that can settle in their lungs.

The Memorial Regional Health Medical Clinic offers extended hours to make it convenient for you to get a flu or pneumonia shot, including walk-in hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. You can also call and make an appointment with a nurse to receive the shot.

Memorial Regional Health continues to grow its provider list, with more than a dozen primary care providers to choose from. For an appointment, call 970-826-2400.