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Flu Shot Essential for Seniors

Last year, about half of Hillsborough County's Medicare recipients were vaccinated for the flu. But during most flu seasons, adults 65 years of age and older account for 90 percent of all flu-related deaths.

That's why the Hillsborough County Department of Aging is teaming with the National Council on Aging’s “Flu + You” campaign to encourage seniors to get flu shots at the Senior Fun Fest Friday) in Brandon.

Registered nurse Frances Brea-Nieto is general manager at the Department of Aging. She says seniors who don’t get vaccinated are at risk for serious complications should they get the disease. Chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes often affect seniors and can make the flu more dangerous, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"A lot of flu-related hospitalizations, I believe it's fifty percent or more that are related to flus, are persons that are 65 years old or older,” she said. “Thus the importance of educating them that they have options to receive these vaccinations to prevent the flu."

It's important seniors know that risk, said Lori Radice, a manager at the Department of Aging. 

"Many people don't realize that our immune system typically weakens as we get older,” she said. “This means that no matter how healthy they feel or active they are typically people 65 years of age and older are more likely to have some type of serious illness."

Megan Milanese is an intern with WUSF’s health reporting project Health News Florida.