Sam Bauman: Flu shots are a good idea for most seniors

I often find information on the Internet that I think seniors should know about. Here’s an example. I got my flu shot; did you? Sarah J. Stevenson wrote about flu shots for the website Following are some of her thoughts.

Whether a flu vaccine contains inactivated viruses, such as the flu shot, or weakened viruses, such as the nasal spray vaccine, you can’t develop an influenza infection.

• The effective ingredient in the flu vaccine is the inactive or weakened flu viruses, or antigens, which prompt the immune system to create antibodies. Note: Some of the antigens are grown in eggs, and others using animal cells or other methods, so people allergic to eggs should inform their provider before vaccination. However, at this time the egg-free vaccine is only available for ages 18-49.

• Vaccines usually contain some form of preservative.

With very rare exceptions, says the CDC, possible reactions to the flu vaccine are mild and short-term, though on occasion someone has a severe allergic reaction. Some reported reactions include:

• Pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site (for shots).

• Fever, aches or malaise.

• Runny nose, headache, sore throat or cough (for nasal spray).

There are certain groups of people who should not get the flu vaccine, or who should consult with a doctor before doing so. Those include:

• People who have had a severe allergic reaction to past flu vaccinations, or to eggs.

• People who are moderately to severely ill.

• People with a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).

• People with immunodeficiency diseases.

• People with medical conditions that place them at higher risk for complications from flu, including asthma or diabetes.

Seniors are more susceptible to flu infection because their immunity is lower. Because the flu is easily spread by coughing or sneezing, it can spread quickly in a closed environment such as a nursing facility.

Seniors also are at higher risk of developing complications from influenza. According to CDC estimates, 90 percent of flu-related deaths and more than 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur in adults older than 65. Recent studies show it can reduce the risk of illness by up to 60 percent.

Medicare Part B covers 100 percent of the seasonal flu shot for seniors.

‘On the Good Ship Lollipop’

The death of one-time child star Shirley Temple was a tug to some seniors who remember her three years of box-office popularity in the 1930s. She was every boy’s would-be sweetheart and every girl’s envy. Her passing is a reminder of those good old days when she sang and danced and made the actors with her look wooden.

She’s a lesson in mortality, dying at 85 after a political career that spanned years. And she danced with Mr. Bill Bojangles Robinson back when black people were much-ignored in Hollywood. There’s a delightful two-minute clip of the two dancing that shows how Temple could pick up a dance routine and make it fun.

She was the biggest star in Hollywood from 1932-35 and she did it all with a roughish smile and a mop of curly hair. Fred Astair and Gene Kelly both owed her a debt of dancing.

Shirley is dancing today somewhere in someone’s heart. Maybe mine.

Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.


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