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August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and there is no better time to shed light on the significance of vaccinations in safeguarding the health of senior adults.
With advancements in medical science and a growing older population, immunizations have become a vital component of healthcare. As we age, our immune system becomes less resilient, making us more susceptible to severe infections and complications. However, through timely and appropriate vaccinations, seniors can strengthen their immune defenses and enjoy a healthier and more active life.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) states some of the most essential vaccinations include influenza, pneumonia, shingles and tetanus. Here are some of the highlights of those immunizations.
Vaccines to Help Prevent Pneumonia
According to the NIA, Pneumococcal disease is a serious infection that spreads from person to person by air. It often causes pneumonia in the lungs and it can affect other parts of the body. People aged 65 and older are more susceptible to getting very sick or dying from the disease.
For seniors who have never received any pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends PCV15 or PCV20. Adults who received an earlier pneumococcal conjugate vaccine should talk with a vaccine provider to learn about available options. To learn more about pneumococcal vaccines click here.
Influenza (flu) is a virus that can cause fever, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, and muscle aches. According to the NIA, the flu is very serious when it gets in your lungs. Older adults are also at a higher risk for developing serious complications, such as pneumonia. Medical experts advise everyone aged 6 months and older to get an annual flu vaccine. The NIA states you should get your vaccine by the end of October each year so you are protected when the flu season starts. It takes at least two weeks for the vaccine to be effective. Flu season typically peaks in December or January. For more information about Flu vaccinations click here.
Tetanus is caused by bacteria from soil, dust, and manure. It can enter the body from a cut or a burn. This can lead to serious illness and death. The NIA suggests seniors get the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) or Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. Ask a health care provider when you need your booster shot. For more information on Tdap vaccines click here.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you ever had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. As you get older, the virus could become active again and cause shingles. The NIA states healthy adults aged 50 and older should get vaccinated with the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, which is given in two doses. You can get the shingles vaccine at a doctor’s office and at some pharmacies. For more information about the Shingles vaccine click here.
A reminder, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about vaccines recommended for you.
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