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The Top Vaccines for Older Adults

By November 5, 2015Aging in Place

With every age comes different responsibilities for maintaining good health. What many people don’t realize is that immunizations become very important over the age of 65. Vaccines for influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, pneumonia, and shingles are the three most important ones to have.

Thankfully, these three vaccines are easy to find. Increasingly immunization clinics are held as part of health fairs at city hall, senior centers and any number of non-profit community service organizations. Doctor’s offices and hospitals offer the vaccines as well and pharmacies can now offer pneumonia and shingles vaccines in every state. All seniors are covered by Medicare, so obtaining protection against these dangerous diseases is easy.

The Real Flu
Many commonly refer to a bad cold as “the flu.” But anyone who has ever had the real flu will tell you that those symptoms don’t even come close to the real thing. The real flu hits hard and can kill infants and seniors who have weak or compromised immune systems. In fact, people over the age of 65 account for half of all the hospitalizations for the flu. Scientists try to anticipate the makeup of the flu in order to develop a vaccine that matches it as close to possible and the good news is that they say this year’s updated vaccine is a better match that last years.

Gear Up Against Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a very dangerous disease. Nearly 1 million Americans get the disease every year and up to 7 percent of them die. Two vaccines protect seniors against pneumococcal disease, which includes pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. While pneumonia is more common, meningitis and sepsis are more deadly. There are two different vaccines for pneumonia prevention and they are given at least a year apart. Best practices indicate that having both vaccines provides better protection. Both are covered by Medicare so discuss the vaccines and the timing with the physician.

This disease is caused by the virus that causes chickenpox. It causes excruciating pain which can persist for months or years in some patients. There is no cure for shingles, however, there is a vaccine to prevent it. The vaccine is recommended for most adults over the age of 60, unless they have complications such as cancer or a weakened immune system. Talk to the doctor and avoid this painful disease.

Remember Booster Shots?
If you don’t remember the booster shots you received as a child, you certainly remember the boosters your children had. As a senior, it is important to revisit those boosters. You may need to refresh them so discuss with the doctor. The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Whooping cough, a respiratory infection involving a harsh, racking cough, is making a comeback with recent U.S. outbreaks.

Make sure the senior you care for is properly vaccinated as Winter approaches! If you have any questions or inquiries, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for more information.

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