Older adults and seniors quite often feel they don’t need vaccinations. Some were vaccinated for multiple diseases when they were younger and don’t realize that they need to be vaccinated again. Some seniors don’t believe the vaccine can help them or they feel that it makes them ill. As we grow older our immune system isn’t as strong as it once was and other conditions may make it easier for us to become very ill if we should catch certain viruses.
What are the recommended vaccinations for seniors?
- Influenza and pneumonia vaccine. Many of those hospitalized with the flu or pneumonia are seniors. The flu vaccine is updated yearly since it is a short lived vaccine and the vaccine itself changes each year. Speak with your doctor before getting the vaccine as those with certain allergies, such as an allergy to eggs, may not react well to it. The pneumonia vaccine is a series of two different vaccines. Since there are almost one hundred different pneumonia viruses the set of vaccines protects against more than thirty of those.
- Shingles vaccine. (Zoster) If you have had chicken pox in the past there is a possibility that the virus could reawaken in your body and cause shingles. Shingles is a very painful rash that blisters. The vaccine can cut your risk of developing shingles in half and if you do still get shingles, it will reduce the severity of the symptoms.
- Tetanus, Diphtheria and Whooping Cough. (Pertussis) Many of us had vaccines for these when we were younger but we should get the vaccination again as our immunity will wear off after awhile. A tetanus shot should be given every ten years.
- There are additional vaccinations available for seniors such as those for measles, mumps and rubella. There is also a chickenpox vaccine for seniors who have never had chicken pox.
Vaccines stimulate your immune system to provide antibodies. This is how you develop immunity to the diseases you have received vaccinations for. Speak with your doctor regarding which vaccinations are suitable for you. Many seniors have certain conditions that may be cause for other vaccinations or they may have to go without some. Don’t forget, if you travel, you may need additional vaccines. Check with your healthcare provider.