Newly Discovered Benefits of a Flu Shot


Flu shots are now recommended for adults 50 years and older since they're most susceptible to the virus. But the vaccine is doing more than fending off the flu bug; it's protecting seniors from other health problems.

The research appeared in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that the flu vaccine also protects against heart disease and stroke. Which many seniors say is more reason for them to get the shot.

Many seniors get their flu shots well ahead of the flu season so they don't have to deal with the hassle.

"I think it's very important that people, seniors, get their flu shots to help them with their cold and things. And I haven't had a cold all winter, so I feel like it's very important," said Norma Jean Corbett received flu shots for 10 years.

The vaccination might be even better than some give it credit. A new study reveals that hospital stays for heart disease or stroke during two flu seasons were reduced among those who got the shots.

Julie Sanderbick with Public Health, Home Health is intrigued by the report.

"I think there needs to be more study done on the area, but I think it would be beneficial that it could prevent people from a second heart attack from what I read on the research done thus far," said Julie Sanderbick, Public Health, Home Health.

South Georgia Medical Center, which provides the vaccination, did not see the correlation before.

Representatives say they will now start keeping those types of stats due to the recent study. Meanwhile, many seniors are going to continue getting their shots so the flu bug won't keep them down.

"I definitely think they should, I don't see any harm in it. Now some people have an allergic reaction and since they have found that it's food for other things, they definitely should a flu shot, every year," said Barbara Gandy, flu shot advocate.

In 2001, about 63 percent of those over 65 were vaccinated in the United States.

What does the vaccine do exactly for the 65 and over age group? The vaccine reduces deaths overall and prevents pneumonia for most of the 65 and over, it's just been recently recommended for those 50 and older. Extended Web Coverage

Influenza Vaccine

  • Much of the illness and death caused by influenza can be prevented by annual influenza vaccination.

  • Influenza vaccine is specifically recommended for people who are at high risk for developing serious complications as a result of influenza infection.

  • These high-risk groups are:
    • All people age 65 and older.
    • People of any age with chronic diseases of the heart, lungs or kidneys, diabetes, immunosuppression, or severe forms of anemia.
    • Residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities housing patients of any age.
    • Women who will be more then three months pregnant during influenza season.
    • Children and teenagers who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who may therefore be at risk for developing Reye syndrome after an influenza virus infection.

  • Overall vaccine effectiveness varies from year to year, depending upon the degree of similarity between the influenza virus strains included in the vaccine and the strain or strains that circulate during the influenza season.

  • Influenza vaccine produced in the United States cannot cause influenza.

  • The only type of influenza vaccine that has been licensed in the United States is made from killed influenza viruses, which cannot cause infection.

When to receive the influenza vaccine

  • In the United States, influenza usually occurs from about November until April, with activity peaking between late December and early March.

  • The optimal time for vaccination of persons at high risk for influenza-related medical complications is during October through November.

  • It takes about 1 to 2 weeks after vaccination for antibody against influenza to develop and provide protection.

Source: ( The Center for Disease Control Vaccine Information Web site)