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Unlike the common cold, influenza is a viral infection of the respiratory system that can cause complications and even death. The risk of complications increases once a person is 65 years old. Therefore, prevention efforts are carried out by giving influenza vaccine to the elderly.
Why is it necessary to give influenza vaccine to the elderly?
Influenza disease generally persists in the body for 1-2 weeks, with peak symptoms on the second or third day. Productive aged people will usually recover quickly, but not for the elderly.
The elderly have a much weaker immune system than younger people. The reason is because the function of the immune system decreases with age.
Decreased immune system makes the elderly more vulnerable to complications. Without an influenza vaccine for the elderly, transmission and complications in the form of bronchitis, pneumonia, organ failure, until death becomes higher.
“In the elderly who have chronic diseases, influenza virus infections can even worsen existing diseases,” explained Prof. dr. Cissy B. Kartasasmita, SpA (K), PhD, when met by the Hello Sehat team in Kuningan, South Jakarta, Friday (05/07).
This condition is even made worse by the lack of public awareness. “People around the elderly often underestimate the symptoms that arise. They think of it as a common cold. In fact, once infected, everyone can get sick, “he added.
When giving influenza vaccine to the elderly
Quoting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza vaccine administration actually even needs to be done since I was a baby, namely the age of 6 months.
Vaccines also need to be given to pregnant women, sufferers of chronic diseases, medical workers, and the elderly.
Globally, the elderly need to get the vaccine since they are 65 years old. However, Indonesia uses a different benchmark for the age of 60 years.
Influenza vaccine for the elderly begins at this age and is repeated every year.
Vaccination every year is not without reason. Influenza viruses are able to change themselves and their genetic code. That is why, the vaccine you received this year cannot prevent the transmission of the disease in the following years.
Nevertheless, giving vaccines to the elderly remains the most effective prevention efforts. In a 2017 study, influenza vaccination proved successful in reducing mortality, ICU care, and patient length of stay.
Benefits of influenza vaccine for the elderly
On the same occasion, the chairman of the Indonesian Medical Gerontology Association, Prof. Dr. dr. Siti Setiati, SpPD, K-Ger, also supports the provision of vaccines for the elderly.
“Vaccination not only protects yourself, but also everyone around you,” he explained.
He encourages everyone who lives side by side with the elderly to get influenza vaccination. In addition to protecting the elderly from disease transmission, vaccination also provides benefits for the lives of the elderly, such as:
- Reducing the economic burden due to influenza-related treatments
- Prevents the elderly from transmitting the disease to others
- Prevents various severe diseases that appear after infection
- Maintaining the quality of life of the elderly so that they can remain active
For those of you who live with the elderly, come on, invite your dear parents to vaccinate. Without taking a long time or expensive, giving influenza vaccine to the elderly means a lot to their health in old age.