In the United States, far too many seniors fail to get the vaccinations they need. In the absence of these disease-preventing injections, older adults are at a much higher risk of developing and spreading serious illnesses. Though vaccinations may seem like a no-brainer, many people are surprised to learn just how many segments of the population – including seniors over the age of 65 – do not keep their immunizations up to date.
Why Aren’t People Getting Vaccinated?
There are plenty of reasons that seniors miss out on their vaccinations. Cost, lack of transportation, immobility, complacency, minimal interaction with a physician or medical provider, lack of vaccine knowledge and the growing anti-vaccine movement are the most commonly cited reasons.
Believe it or not, the United States is experiencing an increase in infectious and communicable diseases. In fact, there are more than 50,000 vaccine-preventable deaths in the U.S. each year.
In a recent CDC press release, Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H, said that far too many people think “infectious diseases are over in the industrialized world,” but global travel and trade can spread infectious diseases “anywhere in the world within 24 hours.” Pretty scary thought, isn’t it?
In response to the spread of communicable disease, a group of experts formed the National Adult Vaccination Program (NAVP) to “improve adult vaccinations aligned with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. In fact, the NAVP is spearheaded by The Gerontological Society of America (GSA), a group representing millions of older adults around the country.
Why Should Seniors Care About Vaccinations?
For seniors, one of the greatest benefits of an up-to-date vaccination schedule is that the inoculations keep more than a few diseases at bay; they can also keep other – often deadly – medical complications at bay, too. Take the flu vaccine for example. For older adults with heart disease, annual vaccinations against influenza can help to reduce the likelihood of major adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke. Research published in the medical journal JAMA reveals that older adults who receive the influenza vaccine have a 36 percent lower risk of cardiovascular events, when compared to older adults who have not been immunized against the flu.
Additional Importance for Seniors
Vaccines are also beneficial for older adults because:
- They have declining immune systems
- Multiple medical conditions increase the risk of contracting preventable diseases
- Seniors need “community immunity”
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