We all know that vaccines are an important piece of preventive health care for children. But did you know that immunizations are equally important as we get older?
The Centers for Disease Control reports that each year, about 42,000 adults in the U.S. die from illnesses that could have been prevented by vaccines. Chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease can put seniors at greater risk for becoming seriously ill. As a geriatrician with HSL Medical Group, my primary goal is to help seniors avoid health complications that can happen as we get older – and vaccines are one important tool.
As you age, immunity from vaccinations you had as a child may have faded, and new vaccines are becoming available. Here are the CDC- recommended immunizations for adults ages 65 and older:
- Flu – An annual flu shot is the best defense against the virus and the serious complications that it can cause. The best time to get vaccinated is in the early fall, before flu season starts.
- Shingles – In some people, the virus that causes chicken pox recurs years later as shingles. Half of all cases occur in people age 60 and over. You can have shingles more than once, so even if you’ve had it, you should still get a shingles vaccine (also known as the Zoster vaccine).
- Pneumococcal – This vaccine protects against pneumococcal bacteria, which can cause pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but seniors are more likely to experience long-term complications or even death.
- Tdap – The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Most people receive this vaccine when they’re young, but immunity fades over time. The CDC recommends a booster shot every 10 years for all adults.
Your doctor may recommend other vaccines based on your health history and other risk factors, like travel abroad.
If you would like to evaluate your need for vaccines or discuss other senior health concerns, feel free to schedule an appointment at my new practice at the Center Communities of Brookline. Call 617-363-8041 to learn more.