In spite of an elevated emphasis from the medical community about the need for vaccines for seniors, a considerable percentage are still not heeding the information – placing these older adults in jeopardy for serious illness as well as death. In fact, 1 out of 3 adults over age 65 opted not to receive a flu shot last year; 2 out of 3 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.”
Below you’ll find four principal vaccines that all seniors should receive – and now is the best time to make plans to take care of them before flu season occurs.
- Influenza. As many as 85% of deaths from influenza every year occur in people aged 65 and above. Having the flu vaccine can decrease the possibility of death in seniors by approximately 60%. Seniors should receive the vaccine specifically designed for ages 65 or over, which includes four times as much antigen as vaccines for younger adults – addressing the requirements of the weaker immune system that’s inherent to aging.
- Pneumonia. While pneumonia in and of itself is exceedingly dangerous, there are a number of issues the elderly are far more prone to develop as well, such as meningitis and blood infections. The CDC recommends two vaccines for older adults to protect against pneumococcal disease, given one year apart – and yet, as few as 18% of seniors have historically received both shots.
- Shingles. With a new shingles vaccine now available (Shingrix), it’s recommended that all seniors – even people originally vaccinated utilizing the previous version, Zostavax – get immunized. Two doses are needed, given 6 months apart, and the subsequent benefit is a better than 90% protection rate from the disease.
- TDaP. Guarding against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), this vaccine is especially important for older adults spending time with babies under one year of age, as these diseases can be life-threatening in infants.
Although no vaccine is 100% effective, they are able to drastically reduce the chance of contracting illness, and even if an illness such as the flu or shingles does occur, it is frequently less severe for individuals who have been immunized.
As one of the most trusted Portland home care agencies serving many Portland area communities, Anthem Home Care’s professional caregivers are always available to provide transportation and accompaniment for older adults to get vaccinations, and can help in a variety of different ways to ensure optimal health and wellbeing. Email or call us at 361-643-2323 to get started on increasing quality of life for a senior you love with our top-rated home care services in Portland and the surrounding areas!