Study Shows Flu Shots Make a Big Difference

By: Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC News
By: Dr. Timothy Johnson, ABC News

With flu season fast approaching, a new study finds that the simple shot can make a big difference for senior citizens' health.

Each year, the winter flu causes nearly 200,000 extra hospitalizations and 44,000 excess deaths in the United States.

Adults over age 65 are among the most vulnerable when it comes to influenza, but recently some experts have questioned whether the annual flu shot is truly effective at reducing seniors' flu-related illness.

New research from the University of Minnesota sought to settle this issue by examining ten flu seasons throughout the 1990s.

Doctors found that seniors who chose the flu shot had a 27-percent reduced chance of being hospitalized with pneumonia or the flu.

They also cut their risk of death by nearly half.

Participants in this study were older adults still living in their communities, not frail elderly confined to nursing homes.

Researchers say this shows that even strong and healthy seniors benefit from the yearly flu shot.

Experts recommend families that include elderly relatives make sure that everyone gets their flu vaccine.

This provides the best protection for both the oldest and the youngest family members.

As for preventive measures, the Barren River District Health Department is giving free flu shots on Oct. 6.

To get one, go to Barren County High School anytime from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Anyone 18 or older is allowed to get a shot.

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