In spite of a greater emphasis from the healthcare community on the need for immunizations for senior loved ones, a considerable segment is still not heeding the information – putting these older adults at an increased risk for serious illness or even death. In reality, one out of three adults over age 65 opted not to receive a flu shot this past year; two out of three skipped the recommended shingles vaccine; and nearly half of all older adults are not current on tetanus immunizations, according to the CDC.
Infectious-disease specialist William Schaffner, M.D., points out, “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.”
Discover four important vaccines that all older adults should receive and make plans to take care of them now, before flu season kicks in.
- Influenza. As many as 85% of deaths from influenza every year occur in men and women aged 65 and above. Getting the flu vaccine can decrease the danger of death in senior loved ones by up to 60%. Older adults should get the vaccine specifically designed for ages 65 and up, which consists of 4 times as much antigen as vaccines for younger adults – addressing the requirements of the weakened immune system that is natural to growing older.
- Pneumonia. Although pneumonia in and of itself is exceedingly dangerous, there are a number of complications that older adults tend to be more prone to develop as well, such as meningitis and blood infections. The CDC advises two vaccines for older adults to protect 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 older adults – even individuals originally vaccinated with the earlier version, Zostavax – get immunized. Two doses are required, given six months apart, and the resulting benefit is a greater than 90% protection rate from the disease.
- TDaP. Protecting against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), this vaccine is particularly vital for older adults spending time with babies under one year of age, as these diseases may be life-threatening in infants.
While no vaccine is 100% effective, they are able to dramatically lower the potential for contracting illness, and even if an illness such as the flu or shingles does occur, it is commonly less critical for people who’ve been immunized.
Grace Home Care, the dementia care Topeka families trust, has highly trained caregivers who are always available to provide transportation and accompaniment for seniors to get vaccinations, and can assist in a variety of other ways to ensure excellent health and wellbeing. Reach out to us at 785-286-2273 to get started on improving quality of life for a senior you love!