Vaccines Are Vital As We Age

January 03, 2020

According to the Centers for Disease Control, since 2010, flu-related hospitalizations have ranged up to 710,000, and flu related deaths have ranged up to 56,000.  Between 700,000 and 1.4 million people live with chronic Hepatitis B, and almost a million people will contract pneumococcal pneumonia each year.  Shingles is likely to affect one out of every three adults that have ever had the chickenpox.  This can lead to severe pain, not only while the disease is active but also after in the form of neuralgia, or nerve pain.

These are preventable diseases that can be avoided with a simple treatment plan: vaccinations.

After the age of 65, your immune system will typically begin to weaken. In fact, 70-90 percent of all flu related deaths have occurred in patients greater than 65 years old.

Vaccines are a safe and affordable way to help prevent or lessen the severity of diseases faced as you age.  Vaccine side effects will typically last only a few days.  The most common side effects include soreness at the injection site, redness and some swelling.  It is very rare to have a severe side effect such as difficulty breathing, passing out or anaphylaxis (allergic reaction).

It is also important to note that you will not only protect yourself from disease but will also help protect your loved ones and those around you.  People with a compromised immune system or other chronic health condition will be less at risk if you are vaccinated.  If you have grandchildren or great-grandchildren, especially newborns, their immune systems have not yet developed and they are at greater risk to contract diseases such as whooping cough.

Today, insurance companies are spending more money trying to prevent disease than ever before.  More vaccines are available through Medicare and their supplemental insurance companies at a lower cost.  Vaccines are even easier to get as well.  Most retail pharmacies will happily get you caught up with your vaccinations.  Your primary care physician will be an excellent resource as well.  All it takes is a phone call.

Below are common recommended vaccinations for adults over the age of 65 according the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

Flu:  Protects against the influenza virus and is recommended every year during flu season.  High dose is available and will protect you against four strains of flu.

Pneumococcal: Protects against multiple types of pneumococcal (a common bacteria) disease and there are 2 types, PPSV23 and PCV13.  It is recommended that both be completed with 1 year between doses.

Tdap: Protects against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (whooping cough).  This should be received if vaccination status is unknown or you were vaccinated before age 11. Tdap can be substituted for any tetanus booster.  It is also worth checking with a family members Ob-Gyn or pediatrician as it can be recommended for anyone with contact to newborns

Zoster: This is commonly referred to as the shingles vaccine.  It comes in two forms: a two dose series and a one dose series.  The two dose series, Shingrix, is preferred at this time as it has been shown to be more effective.  It is recommended even if you have already received the one dose series, Zostavax. Shingrix has been difficult to supply and had required being on a waiting list, but availability has improved lately.

This is not a complete list, and your pharmacist or physician should be consulted.  Vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective.  Vaccines should absolutely be an important part of your healthcare.