vaccination webImmunizations are often a major focus of well-child visits, but can be overlooked when discussing disease prevention in older adults. As we age, our immune systems tend to weaken, leading to higher risk for certain diseases and making vaccinations just as important for the older adult crowd. Those who are over age 65 may wish to discuss the following immunizations with their doctor during their next office visit.

 

Influenza (Flu)
Influenza, also known as the flu, is a viral infection that attacks the respiratory system. Seasonal flu tends to have a high impact on older adults, with 70-85% of seasonal flu-related deaths, and over 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations, occurring in people who are 65 years of age and older.

Receiving the flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of getting the flu by about 50% and diminish more serious flu related outcomes, which can result in hospitalization or even death in older adults. In addition, older adults are strongly advised to consider the “high dose vaccine”, which causes a stronger response by the immune system, thereby increasing protection against the flu.

Tdap
Tdap is a combination vaccine that protects against 3 potentially life threatening diseases – tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whopping cough). Adults should get one dose of the Td (tetanus and diphtheria) vaccine every 10 years; however, any adult who did not receive the Tdap vaccination as a teen or young adult should receive the Tdap vaccine to boost protection against pertussis.

Adults who need protection against pertussis can get Tdap at any time, regardless of when they received their last dose of the Td vaccine.

Pneumococcal
Pneumococcal disease is an infection which can result in pneumonia, infection of the bloodstream, middle ear infection, or bacterial meningitis. Currently, there are 2 pneumococcal vaccines which are recommended for all adults ages 65 and older, as well as for younger adults who have certain chronic health conditions.

Shingles
Shingles is a painful skin rash that is caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, with the risk increasing with age.

In January, 2018, a new shingles vaccine, Shingrix was released. The shingles vaccine is recommended for healthy adults ages 50 and older and protects against shingles and related complications.

The shingles vaccine is recommended for those who had the vaccine prior to the release of Shingrix, have had shingles in the past, or are unsure if they have had chickenpox.

Find out which vaccines are recommended for you by talking with your doctor or other healthcare professional.

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