A flu shot is highly recommended for people aged 65 and older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In comparison to their younger, healthier counterparts, people in this age group are at increased risk for complications if they contract the flu.
Each year, approximately 90 percent of flu-related deaths and 50 to 60 percent of flu-related hospitalizations involve people who are 65 years of age or older, explains the CDC. The reason for this is that the human immune system weakens with age.
As of 2015, people 65 years of age and older can receive the traditional flu shot or a version intended expressly for older adults, states the CDC. This alternate version contains a higher dose of the vaccine that stimulates a stronger immune response. Research is still underway to determine if this high-dose vaccine provides improved protection against the flu.
People who have severe, life-threatening allergic reactions to the flu vaccine or any component of the vaccine should not receive the flu shot, warns the CDC. Those with an allergy to eggs, those who have or have had Guillain-Barré syndrome and those who are not feeling well should consult with their doctors prior to receiving the flu vaccine.
The best time to get the flu shot is in September or October, before the flu season gets underway, advises WebMD. It takes about two weeks for the vaccine to confer maximum protection.