A new study reveals that getting a flu vaccine is like hitting two birds with one stone: it protects not only you but also your parents and even grandparents.
The research conducted by a team from the Cleveland Clinic led by Glen Taksler revealed that if at least 30% of the young adults within a certain community get themselves vaccinated against the flu, older people, especially those beyond 65 years old, experience less serious cases of the disease. Further, the number of cases among older people drops by as much as 21%.
Seniors belong to the high-risk group since their resistance to the virus may already be low. Of the more than 100,000 people who die from the viral illness, at least 90% of them are senior adults. Other members of the group are children, pregnant women, and those who already have a compromised immune system. A highly infectious respiratory illness, flu can also lead to serious complications such as pneumonia and dehydration.
For the study, they used a Medicare database, which gave them access to more than 3 million people. To select a sample, they focused on the reported beneficiaries between 65 years old and above over the last 8 years beginning in 2002. They also reviewed the county-to-county information pertaining to rates of flu vaccinations among 18 to 64 year olds.
When analyzed, they learned that at least 1 in every 20 flu cases among seniors could have been avoided if more young adults would get the vaccine.
The researchers wish to encourage anyone who is young and is considered to be low risk to get a flu shot. Based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, while more children are receiving the flu vaccine, fewer adults prefer to have one. From 40.1% in 2009-2010, the rate of vaccinated adults increased to only 42.2% in 2013-2014.
The study is now available in Clinical Infectious Diseases.