Despite a greater focus from the medical community regarding the vaccines for senior citizens, a large percent is still not heeding the advice – placing these seniors in jeopardy for serious illness and even death. The truth is, one out of three adults over age 65 opted against receiving a flu shot this past year; two out of three skipped the recommended shingles vaccine; and almost 50% of all older adults are not current on tetanus immunizations, according to the CDC.
Infectious-disease specialist William Schaffner, M.D., explains, “As we get older, our immune system becomes much less robust, which means we’re not just at risk for getting diseases like the flu and shingles but of developing life-threatening consequences from them.”
Listed below are four main vaccines that all older adults should receive – and now is the perfect time to make arrangements to take care of them right before flu season strikes.
- Influenza. As many as 85% of deaths from influenza every year occur in men and women aged 65 and over. Getting the flu vaccine can decrease the risk of death in seniors by approximately 60%. Seniors should be given the vaccine specifically made for ages 65 and up, which is made up of four times as much antigen as vaccines for younger adults – addressing the needs of the diminished immune system that’s natural to aging.
- Pneumonia. Although pneumonia in and of itself is extremely dangerous, there are specific issues that seniors are far more susceptible to develop as well, such as meningitis and blood infections. The CDC recommends two vaccines for older adults to defend against pneumococcal disease, given a year apart – yet as few as 18% of older adults have typically received both shots.
- Shingles. With a new shingles vaccine available now (Shingrix), it’s recommended that all seniors – even individuals previously vaccinated with the earlier version, Zostavax – get immunized. Two doses are required, given six months apart, and the resulting benefit is a better than 90% protection rate from the disease.
- TDaP. Protecting against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), this vaccine is especially important for seniors spending time with babies under twelve months of age, as these diseases could be life-threatening in infants.
Although no vaccine is 100% effective, they are able to significantly reduce the potential for contracting illness, and even if an illness such as the flu or shingles does occur, it’s frequently less critical for individuals who’ve been immunized.
At-Home Care Company, providers of the home care Des Moines families trust, is always available to offer transportation and accompaniment for seniors to get vaccinations, and our professional caregivers can aid in a variety of different ways to ensure ideal health and wellbeing. Contact us at 515-292-2650 in Ames to get started on improving quality of life for a senior you love!