Friday, February 19, 2010

Get Ready Mailbag: If I am over 65, should I get the H1N1 flu vaccine?

Welcome to another installment of the Get Ready Mailbag, when we take time to answer questions sent our way by readers like you. Have a question you want answered? Send an e-mail to

I am over age 65. Do I need to get the H1N1 flu vaccine? I heard it is not as big a risk for older people as regular flu. So can I skip the shot?

That’s an interesting question, and it’s easy to see why you may be unsure.

For years now, adults like you — ages 65 and older — have been at high-risk for complications from seasonal flu. But with 2009 H1N1 flu, aka swine flu, this hasn’t been the case. In fact, your age group has had the fewest number of H1N1 cases and serious infections reported. Some tests show a number of older people have some pre-existing immunity to H1N1, meaning you might be less likely to get sick. But that doesn’t mean you are off the hook, as there have been severe infections and deaths from H1N1 in every age group.

When the vaccine first became available, supplies were limited and were being set aside for high-risk groups like pregnant women, young adults and children. But now, the vaccine is much more available. So adults age 65 years and older are being encouraged to get the shot as well. That means if you want to be protected from H1N1, you should get your vaccination ASAP. It’s your safest bet!

Check your local community pharmacy or health department to find a flu vaccination site near you, or visit for a clinic locator.

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