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Flu shots for people age 65 and older

Here's what you need to know before getting your flu shot.

August 31, 2022

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If you're age 65 and older, you have a higher chance of getting very sick from the flu. This is because it's harder for your body to fight off germs that can make you sick. And this is why you should get your yearly flu shot.

As many as 7 out of 10 people who end up in the hospital for flu are age 65 and older. And 8 out of 10 people who die from the flu are age 65 and older. The flu shot is a simple way to keep yourself safe from the flu.

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I’ve heard that people age 65 and older should get a different vaccine

All flu vaccines provide protection against the flu. The CDC recommends certain vaccines for people age 65 and older because they may create a stronger response. But don’t wait for a specific one. The most important thing is to get vaccinated. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you.

Best time to get your flu shot

Flu season usually runs from November through the end of April. The best time to get your flu shot is by the end of October. Once you get your shot, your body needs about 2 weeks to get ready to fight the flu.

If it’s past October and you didn’t get your flu shot yet, get it as soon as you can. It’ll help keep you safe for the rest of the flu season.

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Other tips on how to stay safe from the flu

Besides getting the flu shot, you should:

  • Stay away from people who are sick. 
  • Wash your hands often. 
  • Try not to touch your face. 

When to get medical care

There are some important things to watch for, even if you’ve had your flu shot. Get care right away if you:

  • Have trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Feel pain or pressure in the chest or stomach
  • Are dizzy or confused for a long time
  • Have a fever that won’t get better or gets worse, even when you take over-the-counter medicines
  • Aren’t peeing
  • Have any of the problems listed above and your symptoms get worse

Don’t wait to get your flu shot

Get your flu shot at an Optum location near you.

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The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.