Rough time likely for Canadian seniors during flu season

seniors_fluWhen NormaJean Eberle was diagnosed with kidney disease, she never imagined that the seasonal flu would irreversibly change the course of her disease.

While on a cruise in the Caribbean, NormaJean experienced such brutal symptoms of the flu that she initially believed it was seasickness. Once she arrived home feeling worse than before, her husband took her to the hospital.

“The doctor told me that my kidney function had been severely impaired due to the influenza virus. I was down to 7 per cent functionality. It was very scary — especially since I had already received the regular flu shot that season.”

Having been diagnosed with kidney disease fifteen years before, NormaJean and her doctor had been closely monitoring her illness and preparing for the eventual need for dialysis, a treatment that would require her to be connected to a machine every night for the rest of her life. NormaJean vowed to make every day count.

In the months since getting influenza, NormaJean’s kidney function has only returned to 13 per cent, and she has unfortunately now begun dialysis, almost two years earlier than expected.

Daily life has also changed for NormaJean. Since contracting the flu, she is no longer able to enjoy many of the foods and beverages she once did.

“I can’t have coffee, any alcohol or pop. I can’t eat chocolate, nuts or consume much sodium. We don’t go out very often because of how limited I am.”

Influenza vaccinations for seniors

Seniors are vulnerable to health complications since aging decreases the body’s immune response to influenza vaccines. Having chronic conditions, such as diabetes, renal disease, COPD or cardiac disorders can also increase the risk of contracting influenza. In turn, contracting influenza can also make existing chronic conditions worse. However, there is a flu vaccine available with a higher amount of antigen specifically made for seniors. Research has shown that this high-dose vaccine induces a better immune response in seniors and improves protection against influenza compared to the regular flu vaccine. This vaccine is only available to seniors if they pay for it as the cost is not yet covered by the provinces. Talk to your healthcare provider to see if this vaccine is right for you.

Find more information and help ensure this new flu vaccine developed for seniors is publicly funded at www.CARP.ca. – NewsCanada

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