The CDC reports that three out of ten seniors are not getting the flu shot. Seniors are far more vulnerable to the flu and more likely to develop life-threatening consequences from the virus.
The older we get, the slower our immune system responds to infections. This is why vaccines are pivotal for everyone, most especially the elderly.
Here are five things you need to know about vaccines for seniors:
- Every adult should get the flu shot each year, before the end of October. Remember that it takes up to two weeks for the vaccine to take effect, so timing is important. Older adults are at much higher risk of severe complications from the flu. Vaccination is paramount for this age group. Up to 85% of flu-related deaths affect the senior population.
- Once you turn 65, all adults should get vaccinated against pneumonia. This vaccine protects against pneumonia and other bacteria that can cause other illnesses. Again, the elderly are much more likely to develop life-threatening complications from pneumonia. Pneumococcal disease kills 18,000 seniors each year.
- Every adult over the age of 50 should get the shingles vaccine. This is true even if you have already had shingles. This vaccine comes in two doses, given between 2-6 months apart. The Shingrix vaccine is 97% effective at prevention for people aged 50-69. It is 91% effective for those over 70. This vaccine can also prevent postherpetic neuralgia, a debilitating complication from shingles. One in four people who develop shingles can suffer from severe pain for years.
- Research shows that immunity against whooping cough decreases as you age. A Tdap booster shot (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) can provide up to 80% increased immunity against pertussis. This lingering cough can cause great chest pain for the elderly. The Tdap booster is particularly important if you are going to spend time with young children. Whooping cough is contagious and can be life-threatening for babies. Like the flu shot, this vaccine can take up to two weeks to be completely effective.
- The CDC considers anyone born before 1957 to be immune to measles. But if you are born in or after that year, you should get a dose of measles booster, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella). If you are unsure about your immunity, check your vaccination records. You can also request a blood test from your doctor.
- Be sure to call ahead of the suggested vaccination date to ask about vaccine availability. Sometimes, there are shortages and the elderly take priority.
- Some vaccinations, like the flu vaccine (Fluzone High-Dose and Fluad) and the pneumonia vaccine (Prevnar 13) have stronger options, geared to provide more robust protection. You should speak to your doctor about which vaccination option is best for you.
Visit www.midlandhealth.com today for your free quote to set up a Flu Shot Clinic at your office and protect your employees. Protecting them has a positive ripple effect.
Please be sure to share these facts with your ageing loved ones and encourage them to speak to their doctor.