Q: For months, I have rarely ventured out of my home. Now, I am worried about going out to get my annual flu vaccine. Should I be taking the risk?
A: This year, it is extremely important for everyone, especially older adults, to talk to their health-care provider about getting vaccinated for seasonal flu.
One concern is the start of influenza being complicated by the ongoing COVID pandemic. The two illnesses have similar symptoms, and it may require additional tests to confirm the diagnosis if someone becomes ill.
The good news is this year’s flu vaccine offers protection against four strains as opposed to three strains in previous years.
Most health experts recommend getting vaccinated between mid-September and early November.
It typically takes two weeks to build up full immunity in the body. The website www.VaccineFinder.org lists sites near your residence that will be administering the flu vaccine.
If you have original Medicare, you can get the shot at any provider that accepts Medicare. For individuals who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your provider about where you should get vaccinated.
This is also a good time to ask your doctor about other vaccinations such as shingles and pneumococcal. One in three adults will contract shingles at some point, and flu combined with pneumonia is one of the top 10 causes of death for those age 65 and older.
Your physician can also advise you on which vaccines are right for you in consideration of your overall health condition.
Remember also to continue to wear a mask and social distance in public and wash your hands frequently.
Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information about our Healthy Living programs and other resources or contact our staff at 1-800-892-0890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of Merrimack Valley and North Shore.