Immunization Awareness Month: Vaccines for Seniors

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a yearly event that emphasizes the need for vaccination for individuals of all ages. Vaccines are especially crucial for older persons since their immune systems deteriorate, making fighting illnesses more difficult. The flu, pneumonia, and shingles are more likely to strike as you age.

Certain vaccines can help seniors avoid contracting and spreading dangerous infections, leading to poor health, high medical bills, and incapacity to care for themselves. Immunization can help your elderly loved one, family, and community stay healthy. The Centers for Disease Control recommends the following immunizations for seniors to prevent:

Influenza (Flu)

Every year, all people require a seasonal flu vaccine. It is especially crucial for persons with chronic illnesses and older adults. People sixty-five years and older account for more than 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations. According to the CDC, the flu and pneumonia rank eighth on the list of top causes of death among seniors 65 and over.

Ideally, you should get your flu vaccine each year by the end of October to ensure you are protected when flu season begins. The vaccine takes at least two weeks to become effective. If you haven’t had your flu vaccine by the end of October, it’s not too late – flu season normally peaks in December or January. Vaccination will help protect you as long as the flu virus spreads.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

Shingles, an irritating skin rash caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, can be dramatically reduced with the shingles vaccine. Shingles causes nerve damage. Burning, shooting pain, tingling, or itching are common symptoms, as is a rash with fluid-filled blisters. Even after the rash has faded, the pain may persist. This is known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).

Around half of the estimated 1 million Americans acquiring shingles yearly are over 60 years old. As a result, the CDC recommends immunization for anybody aged 60 and above. The shingles vaccine is safe and may protect you from shingles and PHN. Shingrix, a two-dose shingles vaccination, should be administered to healthy people aged 50 and older. (An older shingles vaccine, Zostavax, is no longer available in the United States.)

Tetanus and Diphtheria

Diphtheria and tetanus are very dangerous bacteria-caused diseases now uncommon in the United States. Diphtheria spreads from person to person via coughing or sneezing mucus. Bacteria that causes tetanus gets into the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds. To guard against both infections, adults should obtain a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster injection every ten years.

Pertussis (Whooping cough)

Because pertussis can mimic a common cold at first, an adult may be unaware they have it and transmit it to someone in their family. Adult immunity to pertussis deteriorates, placing infants at risk. To guard against pertussis, seniors, particularly those with close contact with infants, should have a Tdap vaccine booster.

Pneumococcal Disease (pneumonia)

Pneumococcal vaccines are critical because they protect against pneumococcal illness, which includes infections of the lungs and bloodstream. This disease kills thousands of adults in the United States annually, including those aged 65 and up. Hospitals admit thousands more. Getting vaccinated is the most practical approach to avoiding pneumococcal illness.

Covid – 19

COVID-19 is a respiratory disorder characterized by fever, cough, and shortness of breath. COVID-19 causes more serious illness in older people than in younger people. The condition can cause significant illness and even death. COVID-19 vaccinations have been shown in studies to lessen the chance of contracting this disease. If you get COVID-19, the vaccine will also help keep you from being extremely ill or needing to go to the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that older persons regularly receive COVID-19 immunizations, including booster injections.

Travel Vaccines

If you want to travel to other countries, consult a doctor, a pharmacy, or your local health agency about the necessary vaccines. Your destination, intended activities, and medical history determine the required and recommended immunizations. Occasionally, numerous immunizations or doses are required. It’s preferable to acquire them at least four to six weeks before you leave to give your immune system time to build up and provide the most protection, especially for those requiring multiple doses.

Seniors can consider receiving a physical test to assess their fitness level and any physical limitations. Consider how much walking the journey will involve if you have mobility issues, for example. Those with cardiac issues may prefer an itinerary that avoids vigorous activities. Seniors often have more difficulty recuperating from jet lag and motion sickness, so keep this in mind when planning your trip.

Safety and Side Effects of Vaccines

Vaccines are quite safe and can prevent you from contracting serious or fatal diseases. These vaccines can have modest adverse effects, the most frequent of which are slight soreness, swelling, or redness where they administered the vaccine.

Consult a doctor or pharmacist about your medical history, including any previous diseases and treatments and any allergies, before receiving any vaccinations. A healthcare professional can address any worries you may have. Keep your immunization record, noting the kinds and timing of your vaccinations and any adverse reactions or issues.

Prevention Wrap-up

To help prevent some illnesses as you age, a healthcare professional may advise vaccinations, often known as shots or immunizations. Undoubtedly, nutrition and exercise play a major role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But it also greatly relies on how well you follow the plan and how many vaccinations you receive. Seniors are significantly more prone to certain ailments than the general population is, just like babies and young toddlers are. It is critical to take precautions right away because even a little illness, like the flu, can have fatal consequences.

As the premier In-home care provider for North Bay Seniors,  Sequoia Senior Solutions will assist in providing you with the appropriate services if you or a loved one needs more information about the vaccinations required at this stage of life. Our home health team offers comprehensive assistance for those recuperating from an illness or surgery, managing a chronic condition, or coping with a life-threatening condition. Keep your vaccines up to date to protect yourself as much as possible.

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