Immunization and the Elderly
As National Immunization Month comes to a close, it is important to remember that seniors need to make sure they are keeping up on what immunizations they should have to protect themselves. A weak immune system can lead to serious health problems. All adults should get vaccines to protect their health. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill, and can pasFacebooks certain illnesses on to others. Immunization is especially important for older adults and for adults with chronic conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease. Immunization is also important for anyone who is in close contact with the very young, the very old, people with weakened immune systems, and those who cannot be vaccinated.
- All adults should get the influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. Every adult should also get the Td or Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.
- If you are age 60 or older: Get a shot to prevent shingles. Shingles causes a rash and can lead to pain that lasts for months. Learn about the shingles vaccine.
- If you are age 65 or older: Get shots to prevent pneumococcal ("noo-muh-KOK-uhl") disease. Pneumococcal disease can include pneumonia (“noo-MOHN-yah”), meningitis, and blood infections. Learn about pneumococcal shots.
- The need for vaccination does not end in childhood. Vaccines are recommended throughout our lives based on age, lifestyle, and occupation, locations of travel, medical conditions and vaccines received in the past. Some vaccines can help prevent cancer. Hepatitis B vaccine can prevent liver cancer that can develop after developing chronic hepatitis B. The HPV vaccine can prevent cancers caused by HPV infection, including cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancer.
- Vaccination is important because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others –especially those who are most vulnerable to serious complications, such as infants and young children, the elderly, and those with chronic conditions and weakened immune systems. The single best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu vaccine each season. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age 6 months and older.
- While everyone should get vaccinated, certain people are at greater risk for serious complications if they get the flu, including: people 65 years and older, young children, pregnant women, people with certain health conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease, and people living in facilities like nursing homes.
- Annual flu vaccination is also important for anyone who lives with or cares for people at high risk for developing flu-related complications.
Make sure you and your loved ones are current on all important vaccines and immunizations. It will help everyone stay happy and healthy!
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