As you get older, you need to pay closer attention to your health, and vaccinations are a vital part of that. Due to a weakening immune system and new developments in immunization, there are a host of vaccines the elderly should ask about. Talk to a healthcare professional to see what’s right for you. Make sure you ask about these four shots:
This vaccine protects against, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), and the CDC recommends that everyone over the age of 18 get it at least once, followed by a tetanus-containing vaccine every 10 years. Even if you were vaccinated against whooping cough as a child, your immunity to the disease may have dwindled over time, leaving you unprotected. This vaccine is important because whooping cough can be very dangerous for small children and infants, and it is often transmitted to small kids from adults (ex. doting grandparents) who might not even know they’re infected. If there’s even a chance you’ll be around small kids, you’ll want to be up to date on this one. Note: not all tetanus vaccines contain the pertussis component, so be sure to specifically request the Tdap vaccine.
The CDC recommends that everyone over 6 months gets an annual flu shot. The virus mutates rapidly, plus the body’s resistance to the virus declines over time; an annual dose is essential. You need to stick to this now more than ever—for those over 65, the flu can result in hospitalization and even death. The flu kills an average of more than 23,000 people in the U.S. every year — most of them older adults — and thousands more are hospitalized. As you get older, your immune system needs a little extra help, so be sure to ask your healthcare provider about receiving a high dose flu vaccine, which has been shown to be more effective in those over 65.
Due to a weakening immune system the elderly are more vulnerable to Pneumococcal disease. It’s an infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria and can result in several serious illnesses and conditions, including pneumonia and meningitis. Because it can lead to severe complications, and sometimes death, it’s nothing to take lightly. The vaccine is recommended for those 65 and older.
Shingles starts with a painful rash, often on the face or torso. The rash forms blisters that take weeks to fully clear up, and the pain can stick around for months. The risk of shingles increases as you get older, so the CDC recommends everyone 60 or older gets immunized against this nasty disease.