Before we turn the page on the calendar in a few days and start a fresh new month, It’s important to note that August was National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). It’s an annual observance that raises awareness and encourages everyone to make sure they are current on the necessary vaccinations.
Vaccines are an important preventative measure to protect yourself and those around you. Vaccinations are particularly important for older adults. This is because as we get older, it becomes harder and harder for our immune system to fight off diseases. By getting vaccinated, you’re not preventing yourself from getting the disease, but you’re building up your immunity, so if you do become infected, you have a decreased risk of suffering from severe complications, such as hospitalization or long-term illness.
There are five vaccines adults age 65 and older should consider to prevent certain diseases:
- Influenza (flu) vaccine
- Pneumonia vaccine
- Shingles vaccine
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine
- COVID-19 vaccine
The flu shot is recommended for everyone six months or older. This is one of the more important vaccines for older adults. They usually become available in September, so you’re protected during the critical months, typically Fall and Winter, when influenza is usually common and highly contagious. Influenza is a respiratory virus. For adults over the age of 65, a high-dose flu vaccine is available, which helps create a strong immune response.
The CDC recommends pneumococcal vaccination for all adults 65 years or older. The pneumonia vaccine is a one-time vaccine that offers protection against over 15 types of pneumococcal bacteria that commonly cause severe infections in adults. The vaccine is 60 percent to 70 percent effective in preventing serious disease complications and should last throughout your lifetime.
Older adults should receive two doses of the shingles vaccine, two to six months apart, to help protect against the viral infection. Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox that develops on the body as a painful rash with blisters. The shingles vaccine is the only way to protect yourself against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), the most common complication of shingles.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis
The Tdap vaccine can prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tetanus enters the body through cuts and wounds, and diphtheria and pertussis spread from person to person. These three diseases can lead to very serious health problems and can even become life-threatening.
Tetanus causes stiffening in the muscles and can result in difficulty swallowing or breathing. Diphtheria can also cause trouble breathing in addition to heart failure and paralysis. Pertussis is known as whooping cough and can cause uncontrollable, violent coughing that makes it hard to breathe, eat, or drink. Adults should receive a booster Tdap vaccine every 10 years.
The older population is more vulnerable to experiencing severe symptoms from COVID-19. There are currently three vaccines for protecting yourself from the coronavirus. Two vaccines require two doses and the third option is a single-dose vaccine. You are not fully vaccinated until two weeks after you have received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine.
COVID boosters are now available to further enhance or restore your protection from the contagious virus. If you received the two-dose vaccine, you should get your first booster five months after your second dose. For the single-dose vaccine, the CDC recommends a booster two months after your first vaccination. Multiple boosters are currently available.
Maintain Your Health With Vaccines
Take a proactive role in your health and get the necessary vaccines to ensure your safety. Vaccines are a small price to pay for Better Health. It’s important to discuss your vaccine options with your healthcare provider. At VIPcare, we offer all recommended vaccines for adults 65 and older. Your health and safety are important to us. Learn more about vaccines and what preventative measures you can take by scheduling an appointment with one of our providers today!