The American Lung Association is urging adults 50 years of age and older to get their annual flu shot through its new MyShot campaign, which shares the personal stories of adults in their 50s, 60s and 70s and why they prioritize getting a flu shot. MyShot stories illustrate the potential impact of flu on this vulnerable group (severe illness, worsening of chronic health conditions, hospitalization and leading to missed work days). The campaign reinforces the need for adults 50 years of age and older to talk with their health care providers about flu shot options that may be right for them.
MyShot, a collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, speaks directly to adults 50 years of age and older, because by the time adults turn 50 they are more likely to have one or more chronic health condition such as lung disease, heart disease or diabetes. When combined with the flu, these conditions can become worse and lead to serious illness. Vaccination is the best way to help protect against the flu. Yet, despite these potential dangers, vaccination rates for those 50 years of age and older have stagnated, hovering around 45 percent for adults ages 50-64 and 65 percent for adults ages 65 and older.
“Even though I have chronic asthma, I never thought I needed a flu shot. I had never gotten the flu before and never worried about it. Then, last season, I got the flu twice. It made my asthma worse and stopped me in my tracks,” said JoJo O’Neal, a 53-year-old radio host. “Not only did I put my own health at risk, but I passed the flu to my sister who has a chronic lung disease and she passed it on to her daughter. I understand now that my choice not to get vaccinated was selfish. I’m making my annual flu shot a priority and, through MyShot, I’m encouraging everyone else to do the same.”
Flu is not just a bad cold. It can lead to severe, sometimes life-threatening illness, and other health problems such as pneumonia, exacerbation of heart disease – including increased risk of heart attack or stroke – and even death. While anyone can get the flu, certain people are at increased risk of flu and flu-related complications, including adults 50 years of age and older.
There are several vaccine options available, including some specifically designed for older adults. Health officials recommend everyone ages 6 months and older, with rare exception, get their annual flu shot.
“If you end up getting the flu, being vaccinated may help make your symptoms milder and help you avoid more serious consequences,” said MeiLan Han, M.D. American Lung Association volunteer medical spokesperson. “Getting the flu can cause serious illness with lasting impact for some people, including longer-term disability and increased risk for other serious health events like heart attack or stroke. I recommend vaccination to all of my eligible patients, and hope through this campaign to educate others on how to help protect themselves.”
By visiting GetMyShot.org, people 50 years of age and older and their caregivers can access resources that explain the need to take the flu seriously and get vaccinated every year. Resources include information about the potential dangers of flu, how the flu can have direct and indirect effects on chronic conditions, and the need to prioritize vaccination. There is also a guide to talk with health care providers about which vaccine options may be right for adults 50 years of age and older.
Adults 50 years of age and older are encouraged to visit GetMyShot.org to learn more and to speak with their healthcare provider about flu vaccine options that may be right for them.