However, once bird flu becomes contagious, we can expect that elderly will be just as at risk for catching the virus if exposed to it, and more at risk of dying from it or associated infections and consequences. Regular flu shots may protect seniors to the extent that the shots keep them from becoming sick and weakened from catching ordinary flu. The flu shots themselves are for the 3 most common strains of ordinary flu going around, not for bird flu.
Therefore, the main strategy to protect seniors from bird flu is still social isolation — to stay away from as many people as possible to avoid exposure to the virus.
A big risk to seniors will be not getting professional care and medicine for their other medical problems. A bird flu pandemic will not make heart attacks, high blood pressure or strokes disappear, but will severely strain the ability of hospitals and clinics to care for anybody except flu victims.
In fact, frequent hand washing is one of the best ways for everyone to protect themselves from contagious flu.