Posted on Dec 4, 2019 in Senior Health
Aging adults are at heightened risk of infectious diseases so immunizations are vital. As you get older, your immune system weakens in a phenomenon known as immunosenescence. As innate and adaptive immune responses decline, you’ll be more susceptible to illnesses like the flu, shingles, and pneumonia. The flu and pneumonia are part of a group of acute respiratory infections, the eighth leading cause of death in the US responsible for 56,000 fatalities annually. This group of vaccine-preventable infections also accounts for most hospitalization and death in individuals over 65. So, if you’re wondering which immunizations for seniors you are the best, read on.
If you’re over 65, you need to get an annual flu shot. With more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year caused by the flu, this seemingly benign illness hits seniors particularly hard. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of deaths from the flu occur in individuals over 65.
Vaccination against the flu slashes your risk by up to 60%.
You should consider Fluzone High-Dose which contains quadruple the amount of antigen present in a regular flu shot. A 2014 study showed this high dose shot was 24% more effective in preventing the flu in seniors.
Another option is Fluad, a vaccination designed to provoke a more powerful immune system response. This shot is also especially beneficial for seniors.
A more recently approved vaccination, Flublok Quadrivalent is also more effective in individuals over 65 than a regular flu shot. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed this vaccine was 30% more effective than standard shots.
You should aim to get your flu shot in early fall before the flu season starts in late October. You’ll need a couple of weeks to build up full immunity.
This vaccine protects you against pneumonia brought on by the debilitating pneumococcus bacteria.
Doctors recommend that all individuals over 65 get a vaccination against the pneumococcus bacteria. If you smoke or have existing health problems, you might benefit from getting this shot as young as 50 years old.
Pneumococcal pneumonia causes 2 main complications:
Fortunately, the vaccine is highly effective and you’ll only need it once. You might need a booster after 5 years depending on any other medical problems you have.
Both the incidence and the mortality rate of pneumococcal disease increase in individuals over 50 and this increase is most dramatic in people over 65.
You’ll need 2 vaccines:
Taking the trouble to protect yourself against pneumococcal pneumonia could be a literal lifesaver. Speak with your doctor and take action.
If you live to the age of 86, you’ll have at least a 50% chance of developing herpes zoster or shingles.
Age is the single largest risk factor for shingles and the risk and severity both increase after the age of 50.
You can get 2 vaccines against shingles:
Clinical trials have shown the efficacy of Shingrix is higher against herpes zoster than Zostavax in all age groups including seniors. The difference was most significant in individuals over 70.
The Tdap vaccine protects you against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).
Whooping cough has become more prevalent recently and aging adults can easily pass this disease on to infants.
If you’re over 65, you should get the Tdap combination vaccine. You should also consider a tetanus booster every 10 years.
MMR protects you against measles, mumps, and rubella.
The CDC recommends all adults born after 1956 get vaccinated.
Since the vaccine was developed in 1957, most people who were born after this have already been vaccinated.
Speak with your healthcare provider to check up on your status and get the MMR shot if required.
If you’ve got certain health problems, your doctor might recommend you get a vaccination against hepatitis A and B.
Both of these infections can trigger liver inflammation.
Ask your doctor if this vaccination is appropriate or necessary.
Travel vaccines are vital if you’re heading anywhere you might find the following diseases:
Speak with your doctor about your travel plans and get whatever vaccinations he suggests.
Vaccines for flu and pneumococcal disease are covered by Medicare Part B. If you are at increased risk of hepatitis B, this is also covered.
Medicare Part D will typically cover more vaccines but you might need to meet out-of-pocket costs.
If you’re struggling to keep up with vital immunizations for seniors and medical appointments, you might benefit from assisted living. Here at Landmark Senior Living we have 5 facilities in Massachusetts and New Mexico. Get in touch today to learn more about Senior Living in New Mexico for aging adults.