In order to emphasize the critical importance of being vaccinated against influenza, December 1st through the 7th has been designated as National Influenza Vaccination Week, and that would be a good time for you to get your seasonal inoculation against this fearsome disease. It is known from prior years that the majority of vaccinations take place prior to December. That means the number of vaccinations quickly decreases from that point onward, so if you haven’t already done so, make sure to get yours during the national week where it is featured. Senior home care providers are very much aware of the benefits provided by this protection, both in Pontotoc and elsewhere, and they strongly urge you to take advantage of these free vaccinations. Here are some of the reasons why it is highly advantageous for you to get the vaccination.
Serious threat to seniors
You might not think of influenza as being a particularly deadly disease, but there are certain segments of the population that are extremely vulnerable to contracting influenza, starting with seniors and those who have chronic medical conditions. People who are 65 years old and upward, have a very high risk for developing complications from influenza, and they account for a majority of the hospitalizations every year, as well as the mortalities, which occur as a result of influenza.
It is estimated that somewhere between 70 and 85% of all deaths related to influenza in this country occur in the population of people who are 65 and older. It is also estimated that the number of hospitalizations that occur every year consists of almost 70% of seniors, who are aged 65 and over.
Risk to healthcare personnel
Oddly enough, the risk to healthcare personnel constitutes another great source of risk to seniors. It has happened numerous times in the past and will continue to happen, that healthcare personnel acquires influenza when caring for individuals under their charge. Without realizing they’ve been infected, they can then pass on influenza to other seniors they may be caring for.
This is especially true in an environment where long-term care is being administered because the exposure to people who have influenza is greater in such environments. That’s why it’s important for healthcare personnel to receive the vaccination, as well as all those they care for, both for their own personal protection and for the protection of patients.
Research has shown that in long-term care facilities, as many as 33% of the individuals being cared for will develop influenza each season. Of equal concern is the fact that as many as 25% of the healthcare personnel associated with the facility will also develop influenza. From this it can be seen that preventing the spread of influenza among those individuals charged with the care of seniors, can itself be very helpful in reducing the spread of influenza among long-term care patients.
Effectiveness of vaccination
In any given year, the general effectiveness of vaccination will depend on how good a match there is between the vaccine itself and the most prevalent strain of influenza being circulated that season. It will also depend on the age of those individuals who are exposed to the strain, as well as their overall health because people with weakened immune systems are much more vulnerable to contracting influenza.
Since many seniors are in this group which have weakened immune systems, everything possible must be done to protect them from exposure to influenza, starting with having them receive the vaccination themselves. The Center for Disease Control strongly recommends that all healthcare professionals also be vaccinated against influenza, because they come in contact with seniors so frequently and for extended periods of time.
A number of health organizations in this country have access to a body of research which shows that vaccinations will also reduce the incidence of illness on healthcare staffs, and will significantly lower absenteeism as well as hospitalizations resulting from influenza. It is known that even in years where there is not a good match between the circulating strain of influenza and the vaccination itself, that individuals vaccinated against influenza will generally undergo fewer complications related to flu than those who don’t receive the vaccination at all.
Benefits for people with chronic health conditions
Surprisingly, flu vaccinations show a significant statistical correlation with lower incidence of cardiac events, particularly among those known to have heart disease. Being vaccinated against influenza can also reduce the number of hospitalizations for patients with chronic lung disease, and can help prevent any worsening of that disease as well. Persons afflicted by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have also benefited by being vaccinated against influenza, as their disease is maintained at a manageable level more frequently.
Other studies have indicated that being vaccinated against influenza contributed strongly to lower hospitalizations among people who have diabetes. Statistically speaking, there are just a great number of benefits associated with receiving influenza vaccinations, and that makes it something that all adults and most children should take note of. Get vaccinated this year, and in all likelihood, you will experience better health in the coming months.