Aging is associated with an increase in the risk and severity of infectious diseases. It’s important to remember (and obtain) the vaccinations that are especially important in helping fight off these infections and keeping our elderly loved ones healthy. An estimated 45,000 adults die annually from complications due to vaccine-preventable diseases. The coming fall season is a good time to check in with your loved one’s healthcare provider to see what vaccinations are needed. Protecting one’s immune system is especially important in 2020.
Here are five vaccines that most seniors will need:
Flu Shot Ideally, all adults should have a flu shot by the end of October before the flu season begins. Most of us can recover from the flu, but older adults have a greater risk of experiencing severe complications like pneumonia. Research shows us that even if you get the flu after being vaccinated, it can help reduce the risk of serious illness. Remember the protective antibodies offered by the shot can take two weeks to build up, so plan ahead.
Pneumonia Vaccine One in 20 older adults dies from pneumonia. All adults, once they turn 65, should receive this vaccine to protect against pneumococcal bacteria which can cause pneumonia and other illnesses like meningitis. These diseases can lead to serious complications and even death. A pneumonia vaccine is the first line of defense.
Shingles Vaccine The virus that causes chickenpox in children stays in your body for many years. When you get older, this virus can become active again and cause shingles which is a painful rash with blisters. A complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia that causes pain to persist even after the rash is gone due to nerve damage. The CDC recommends that adults 50 and older should get the shingles vaccine. The newer and more effective version of this vaccine is given in two doses and usually two to six months apart.
Tdap Vaccine The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Whooping cough has made a resurgence and older adults can pass this disease onto infants who are at a greater risk for complications. But it is not just a childhood disease. Older adults can also be affected by whooping cough that can cause complications including pneumonia, ear infection, vomiting, and dehydration if left untreated.
MMR Vaccine This vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Most older adults do not need to worry about getting or spreading measles. But adults that were born after 1957 and not vaccinated or have not had measles should check with their health care provider about receiving this important vaccine.
Protection is Key
It doesn’t take long to check in with your elderly loved one’s health care provider to get specific vaccine recommendations to reduce the risk of complications from preventable diseases, particularly when there is a pandemic. Getting ourselves and older family members properly vaccinated will bring you peace of mind that your loved one will be healthy and safe.
By Your Side caregivers are here to offer support to make aging-in-place more comfortable and satisfying. Please contact us with any questions you may have.