Health & Medicine

It’s flu shot time, especially for seniors

National health groups are reporting a concerning drop in flu vaccinations for seniors and asking everyone 6 months and older to get their shots this month.

Influenza data released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week showed that during the 2015 to 2016 influenza season, vaccination rates dropped 1.5 percentage points among the general population, with 46 percent vaccinating against the flu. Rates dropped by 3 percentage points among adults over 50, and Hispanic and African American adults continued to experience lower vaccination rates than white adults.

Older adults are more severely affected by the flu than younger people and are more likely to be hospitalized if they catch it, said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, in a news release. A special flu vaccine is being offered this year for people over 65, which includes an immune-boosting ingredient called an adjuvant.

This season’s vaccine will protect against three influenza viruses that research suggests will be common this year. In a change from last year, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics are only recommending the use of injectable flu vaccines this year, not the nasal spray flu vaccine, due to concerns about its effectiveness. They suggest that everyone get vaccinated by the end of October, but said doing it toward the end of the season in March is still advised.

Kaiser Permanente will host a free flu clinic for adults Oct. 22 at The Promenade at Sacramento Gateway, 3661 N. Freeway Blvd., Suite 100, in Sacramento from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call the Kaiser Permanente Flu Hotline at 800-573-5811 for more information.

Sacramento County Department of Public Health will host the following free flu clinics from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.:

Oct. 12: Rusch Park, 7801 Auburn Blvd., Citrus Heights

Oct. 19: Mission Oaks Community Center, 4701 Gibbons Drive, Carmichael

Oct. 25: Hart Senior Center, 915 27th St., Sacramento

Nov. 2: St. Therese Church, 100 Fourth St., Isleton

Nov. 9: Pannell Center, 2450 Meadowview Road, Sacramento

Nov. 17: Citrus Heights Community Center, 6300 Fountain Square Drive, Citrus Heights

Call the Sacramento County Immunization Assistance Program at 916-875-7468 for more information.

Sammy Caiola: 916-321-1636, @SammyCaiola