Immunizations for seniors

Belv shots blog.jpgVaccines are especially important for adults ages 65 and over. As you age, your immune system weakens and less able to fight off illness and infections. Seniors are more vulnerable to flu, pneumonia, and shingles and other illnesses, which are dangerous on their own but can also have long-term, or even fatal, complications.

Vaccines build up your immune systems by triggering a response to the same germs that cause disease. But the germs and viruses in vaccines are dead or have been weakened so they can’t cause full-blown illness. Some vaccines contain only a part of the disease germ.

Being exposed to these dead or weakened viruses stimulates your immune system to produce antibodies. Once you have the antibodies to fight off the disease, you are immune and protected against illness.

Vaccines are generally inexpensive and accessible, yet tens of thousands of adults die each year from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.

If you have an ongoing health condition such as diabetes or heart disease, then getting vaccinated is especially important. Vaccines can protect you from disease, complications and even death. For seniors, it’s much easier to prevent serious illness than to go through recovery.
Getting vaccinated can help keep you, your family and your community healthy.

For those ages 65 and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends:

•    You should get flu vaccine every year.
•    You should get 1 dose of Tdap if you did not get it as a child or adult. You should also get a Td booster every 10 years. Women should get 1 dose of Tdap during every pregnancy.
•    There are 2 types of zoster vaccine. You should get 2 doses of RZV at age 50 years or older (preferred) or 1 dose of ZVL at age 60 years or older, even if you had shingles before.
•    There are 2 types of pneumococcal vaccine. You should get 1 dose of PCV13 and at least 1 dose of PPSV23 depending on your age and health condition.
•    If you did not receive immunization for chickenpox as a child, consult your physician about this vaccination.

According to the National Council on Aging, Medicare should pay all or part of the cost of vaccinations for influenza, shingles, pneumococcal disease and hepatitis B.

Consult your healthcare provider to find out what course of vaccinations would be safest and most effective for you.