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Adults Aged 65 and Older Need to Get Their Flu Shots: Here's Why


William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, explains why adults aged 65 and older need to receive the flu shot.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

"We vaccinate two-thirds of the people in the United States who are aged 65 and older each year, and that’s a terrific achievement, but think about it: that means one-third of the population, 15 million people who are 65 and older still do not avail themselves of vaccination. We have to do better as providers, and I hope we can motivate those individuals to come in and request influenza immunization.

You know, people aged 65 and older have a diminished immune system. It doesn’t work as well; it’s not as responsive as the immune system in younger people, and so, they are disproportionately made ill, they get more serious illness when they’re infected with influenza.

On top of that, people aged 65 and older begin to accumulate a number of chronic illnesses—heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, asthma—and that makes the impact of flu even more serious because all of those chronic illnesses predispose to pneumonia and other serious complications of influenza."
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Influenza A (H3N2) has caused most of the illnesses in this severe flu season, but influenza B is becoming increasingly responsible for more infections as the flu season continues to hit the United States.