A new study suggests that adults under 65 should get an influenza vaccine, commonly knows as flu shot, not only to protect themselves, but also the elderly in their communities.
Researchers found that senior citizens living in countries where with high flu vaccination rates were 21 percent less likely to contract the flu, as opposed to seniors living in countries with the lowest vaccination rates.
“Our finding may help reframe the public image around flu vaccines, offering a positive context because getting vaccinated seems to help other people in the community. […] adults who have contact with elderly should make a particular effort to receive an influenza vaccine,” said lead aouthor Glen B. Taksler from the Medicine Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
According to the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two-thirds of seniors (65 or older) are diagnosed with flu-related illnesses and about 90 percent of them die because of these illnesses. The second most exposed to the risk of getting the flu are children.
CDC says that anyone who is six months or older should get an influenza vaccine each year. Influenza causes almost 24,000 death in the United Stated per year, according to the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers conducted a study in order to find out whether young adults could protect the elderly by getting vaccinated. In the study, the researchers gathered data from a telephone survey that had been previously conducted by the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention. More than 500,000 adults ages 18 to 64 were questioned on how often they got flu-shots. In addition, the researchers also analysed insurance claims that belonged 3 million Medicare patients.
The results showed lower flu-related illnesses for senior citizens in areas where more young adults had been vaccinated.
Experts advise seniors to get vaccinated too. The risk of getting flu-related illnesses is 33 percent lower in immunised seniors, compared to only 13 in seniors who had not been vaccinated.
Researchers say that the immune system of seniors has a weakened response to the vaccine, but they think that seniors who are vaccinated may have a lower risk of getting the flu than those who are not.
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