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Free Flu Shots for Seniors Offered


With a little preventive medicine, the elderly may be able to get through this year's flu season. That's what health experts are telling Los Angeles County's older residents, who are most likely to come down with the flu between December and March, the peak period for infection.

Volunteer nurses from the American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles will administer free flu vaccines to people older than 60 from Oct. 21 through Nov. 26 at several sites in Los Angeles, Burbank and the Santa Clarita Valley. The agency is providing the service in partnership with the county health department.

"Getting a flu shot is a simple act of prevention that can reduce incidence and severity of the flu," said Gail Silverman, Red Cross director of vocational health care and training and community outreach services.

The elderly, pregnant women in their second or third trimester and adults with heart, kidney or respiratory disease or an otherwise compromised immune system are encouraged to get a flu shot, Silverman said.

This year's vaccine protects against three strains of the virus--A/Moscow, A/New Caledonia and B/Hong Kong--that are likely to cause illness among U.S. residents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Influenza is caused by viruses that infect the respiratory tract. Symptoms typically include a high fever, headache, extreme fatigue and head congestion.

Although most people recover within two weeks, Silverman said the elderly have a difficult time battling the bug. "Senior citizens are also most vulnerable to secondary illnesses, such as pneumonia, that can be caused by the flu."

Health officials advise elderly residents to get flu shots this month to give the vaccine enough time to work before flu season begins.

For information on the nearest site, call (800) 427-8700 or visit

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