Vaccines for seniors can prevent fatal illnesses. In fact, there are 45,00 adult deaths each year from illnesses that could have been prevented by a vaccine! That’s why it’s so important that anyone over the age of 65 be up-to-date on their vaccines.
The flu vaccine prevents seniors for succumbing to the more dangerous strains of the flu, which might lead to complications such as pneumonia. Adults over the age of 65 get a high-dose vaccines, since they are particularly susceptible to the flu. This vaccine should be given before the flu season starts, since it takes about two weeks to build up protective antibodies.
Pneumonia can also be caused by pneumococcus bacteria, so older adults are advised to get vaccinated once after the age of 65 (or 50 if they smoke or have other health problems). Some seniors may be advised to get a booster every five years. This vaccine prevents complications such as meningitis and blood stream infection.
Babies born in or after 1957 received this vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella, but those born in 1956 or before were likely not vaccinated. This vaccine only needs to be given once to anyone who didn’t receive it. Seniors who aren’t sure if they were vaccinated with MMR should consult with their doctor.
Adults 65 or older should be vaccinated for whooping cough if they haven’t been previously vaccinated. Babies are the most vulnerable to complications from whooping cough, and can easily catch it from unvaccinated seniors.
Anyone who has had chicken pox is at risk for shingles, since the virus lives in nerve endings and shows up as shingles later in life. Adults 60 and over are particularly vulnerable to contracting shingles and complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia, a painful infection which can linger for months. The shingles vaccine cuts the likelihood of contracting shingles in half and is recommended for everyone over 60.
For seniors with specific health problems, doctors may recommend additional vaccines, such as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Consult with your senior’s physician to ensure they are up-to-date on all their vaccines and stay healthy.