NCOA launches vaccine initiative for elderly

The National Council on Aging recently began a campaign aimed at educating older adults about the importance of influenza immunization.

Older adults, those over the age of 65, are the age group most vulnerable to influenza and influenza-related complications. In the United States, nine out of 10 flu-related deaths and more than six out of 10 flu-related hospitalizations are in older adults.

The NCOA recently announced that it is leading a new flu vaccination education initiative. The initiative will target both older adults and caregivers, and will focus on the importance of annual immunization and the available vaccine options.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has long recommended that older adults receive an annual influenza immunization as the best way to help prevent the flu, yet immunization rates are still far below public health goals," NCOA's Dr. Richard Birkel said. "Too many older adults fail to self-identify in the high-risk group for influenza or defer immunization thinking others need the shot more than they do."

Adults aged 65 and older have two major options available regarding vaccination. Besides the traditional flu shot, there is a widely available higher dose flu vaccine designed to take into account the age-related decline in the body's immune system. Both are recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.