What Adults Over 65 Need To Know About Their 2022 Flu Vaccine Needs

The holidays are practically here, which means flu season has arrived. While you may not get the flu every year, when you do, it's miserable and can be deadly for some. But this year may be slightly different regarding the flu vaccine for those over 65.

The flu, otherwise known as the influenza virus, is an illness similar to a cold, usually prevalent around winter (via Cleveland Clinic). It is considered an infectious disease and spreads through contact with someone else who is infected. Common symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, fatigue, aches, and congestion, but it can cause severe illness, especially if you have other health conditions or are over 65 years old. Unfortunately, around 50,000 people die from the flu yearly. Therefore, the most important thing you can do regarding the flu is to get the vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The experts at World Health Organization explain that vaccines contain inactive or weak portions of an organism and introduce them to trigger the immune system so the body can build defenses against it. Then when you come in contact with the same organism, the body can respond better to it. While vaccines don't provide complete protection against getting sick, they reduce the risk and symptoms if you are infected. These preventative vaccines can be administered via injection or orally (via Cleveland Clinic). This year though, more options are being offered to older adults choosing to get vaccinated.

Immune systems weaken as you get older

In regards to this flu season, Dr. Barbara Bawer, a family physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center told Healthline that Australia had its worst flu season in five years and they are an indicator of what will happen in the U.S. Luckily this year, there are stronger versions of the flu vaccine available for those more susceptible to help combat what may be a more intense flu season.

The new vaccines recommended for those 65 and older are Fluad Quadrivalent, Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent, and Flublok Quadrivalent, reports the CDC. These quadrivalent vaccines protect against four different flu viruses, including two influenza B types and two influenza A, which will help trigger a stronger immune response. This greater response makes these versions potentially more effective than standard vaccines for those 65 years or older. For those with an average immune system, getting a flu vaccine, in general, is more important than holding out for these new versions.

In her interview with Healthline, Dr. Bawer also advised that adults ages 65 and older need a higher dose of the flu vaccine since the immune system can weaken with age and may not respond well enough to a normal dose. As it looks like this flu season will be severe, it's critical to get the flu shot to help prevent its spread, and if you're over 65 make sure to ask your healthcare provider about receiving one of the new quadrivalent vaccines.