Flu Myths and Facts for Seniors

Nurse with senior

For most of us, coming down with the flu is inconvenient and unpleasant. But, for seniors, it can be much worse. They often get affected much worse, take much longer to recover, and can even die.

Keeping healthy in the winter can already be a challenge for seniors, but catching a cold or the flu can be devastating. Older people are at higher risk for complications from the flu.

Flu Myths and Facts for Seniors

Far too many people are experts when it comes to the flu. All too often, because they have gotten through having the flu, they think they are in a position to guide everyone else. Learn some of the most common flu myths to lookout for.


Myth: The Flu Shot Causes the Flu

It’s actually not uncommon for people to get sick with the flu after they get the flu shot. However, one has nothing to do with the other. If you have already been exposed to the flu virus, you are going to get it regardless of getting the shot.

The vaccination takes upwards of two weeks before the flu shot is active in your system. The flu shot contains a flu virus that is not active that works to protect you and build up your immune system.


Myth: The Flu is the Same as a Cold

The symptoms of the flu and a cold are very similar, but they are not the same. The flu is a serious viral infection that affects your respiratory system. Different viruses cause each disease.

The common cold and the flu will present with coughing, runny nose, watery eyes, headaches, and fever. But the flu is much more severe. A person with the flu may have a high temperature, chills, and even vomiting or diarrhea.


Myth: Healthy People Don’t Need the Flu Shot

The flu virus doesn’t discriminate where it sets up home. It is very contagious and you may have already been exposed to it without ever knowing it. By this point, you may have already infected many more people, including young kids and seniors.

The virus can spread easily from person to person. When you are in close proximity to a larger group of people, like at work or a grocery store, you are definitely at risk. It can also spread from surfaces.


Myth: I Don’t Need the Flu Shot Every Year

As we have all learned over the past few years with Covid, the viruses change. If you want to be protected from the flu, you should get the vaccination every year.

The viruses mutate and therefore, the vaccinations from a few years ago also need to change. Last year’s shot may not be enough to fight off this year’s latest version of the flu.


Myth: The Side Effects are Harmful to Seniors

The flu vaccination is one of the safest around. That’s because it has been around for many years. It has been studied and adjusted to remain safe all these years.

There may be rare occasions where someone has an allergic reaction, but these are very rare. The biggest complaint is a sore arm where the injection was given. This happens when people are nervous and tense up.


Myth: The Flu Shot is Enough, I Rarely Go Out

Even someone who is mostly housebound is still at risk. If they have a family that frequently drops by, a caregiver who comes in, or deliveries for necessities, they are at risk of getting sick.

For someone who believes they are low-risk, they still need to take precautions. Wash your hands frequently, maintain a healthy diet, and wear a mask when meeting people in your home or outside.


Myth: Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever

This old wive’s tale is not acceptable. If you are sick with the flu or even a cold, you need to drink plenty of fluids. Lots of water and hot beverages like herbal teas will ease many symptoms.


Be Prepared

If you are concerned for an older loved one, make sure they get their flu shot and take precautions. You may want to consider investing in a medical alert system. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your loved one is always protected. This will ensure they always get the help they need right away.