You may think vaccines are just for children, but healthy adults need them as well. Vaccines are an important way to guard against preventable diseases at every stage of life. As people age, the immune system weakens, and the risk for certain illnesses grows. Adults over 65 are more susceptible to diseases such as influenza, pneumonia, and shingles. This age group is also at higher risk for serious health complications. Fortunately, many of these diseases are preventable through vaccination. Talk to your doctor about these four vaccines to develop an immunization schedule that is right for you.
1. Flu Vaccine
While you can catch influenza any time of year, it is most prevalent from October to March. Strains of the flu are often changing, so a new vaccine is developed each year. So, it’s important to get the flu shot annually in early autumn. Older Adults can have severe symptoms that may require hospitalization. Vaccinated people are less likely to get the flu. Even if they do catch the flu, they tend to have milder symptoms.
2. Pneumonia Vaccine
Pneumonia is a lung infection that is particularly life-threatening to Senior Citizens. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends pneumonia immunization for all adults over 65. There are two different vaccines available: PCV13 and PPSV23. Doctors give the PCV13 vaccine to children under 2 years of age. Adults who need this vaccine may only get a single dose. This vaccine helps protect against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that most commonly cause serious infections in children and adults. The vaccine called PPSV23 can help prevent pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease refers to any illness caused by pneumococcal bacteria. These bacteria can cause many types of illnesses including pneumonia. Pneumococcal bacteria are one of the most common causes of pneumonia. It is important to talk to your doctor about which vaccine is right for your loved one.
3. Shingles Vaccine
Shingles is a painful rash that can lead to long-term nerve damage. If you’ve ever had chickenpox, you could develop shingles, and the risk gets more serious as you get older. The CDC recommends that anyone over 50 gets two doses of shingles immunization 2 to 6 months apart. These shots are available at doctors’ offices and pharmacies. They are 90% effective at shingles prevention.
Unlike most diseases, tetanus does not spread from person to person. Instead, it comes from contaminated material that enters the body through breaks in the skin. You could get it by stepping on a dirty nail or getting a scrape while gardening. A tetanus shot is recommended every ten years. So, even if you received a tetanus shot as a child, you may still need a booster.
Today’s tetanus shot is combined with the pertussis booster. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a very contagious illness with severe symptoms for both infants and Older Adults. Even people who were vaccinated as children need boosters. So, grandparents should talk to their doctor about this vaccine before snuggling with their new grandbaby.
Safety vs. Risk
Vaccines are generally safe and effective; however, side effects do exist. While the severity of diseases increases with age, the risk of immunization stays the same. Side effects may include things like soreness at the injection site and mild-grade fever. Vaccines are monitored by the CDC continuously for safety and effectiveness. However, people with specific allergies may have severe reactions. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
At Anita’s Angels, Inc., our trained staff is dedicated to helping Senior Citizens live healthy and happy lives. We are Families Helping Families. Let’s talk about what we can do for you—call us at 908-788-9390.