Back to School Vaccinations Aren’t Just for Kids: Why Senior Care Needs to Include Immunizations

senior careAs summer winds down, parents are busy shopping for school supplies, checking last year’s clothing to see what still fits, scheduling appointments for physical and dental exams, and, more often than not, subjecting them to immunizations. However, now isn’t just a time when school kids need to roll up their sleeves and face those dreaded shots. This time of year, even adults should get in on the act.

To ensure your loved ones over age 60 receive the best senior care, Hillendale Home Care suggests reviewing this report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which outlines the immunizations seniors should be up to date on, including:

  • Influenza – every year
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis – every ten years
  • Varicella (chickenpox) – two doses throughout one’s life
  • Herpes zoster (shingles) – two dose series, 2 – 6 months apart after the age of 50
  • Pneumococcal (PPSV23) – one dose after the age of 65

As one ages, the body’s natural immune system becomes weaker, which puts older adults at a higher risk for catching viruses such as the flu and pneumonia. In fact, influenza and pneumonia together are the seventh leading cause of death for people over the age of 65 in the United States. Appropriately vaccinating against these diseases can ward off, or at least reduce the severity of these viruses, which can save lives.

In spite of some of the stories you may have heard, influenza and pneumococcal vaccines are rather safe. The truth is, less than 1% of those vaccinated experience fever, muscle aches, or more significant local reactions. And, you cannot contract the flu from the traditional flu shot, which is made with a dead virus. In fact, the flu vaccine can be as much as 70 to 90 percent effective for healthy seniors. According to the National Network for Immunization Information, hospital patients who receive the pneumonia vaccine:

  • Have a lower incidence of respiratory failure
  • Have a lower incidence of kidney failure
  • Have a lower incidence of heart attack
  • Spend two fewer days in the hospital on average
  • Are 40 to 70 percent less likely to die from complications from pneumococcal bacteremia than unvaccinated patients

For many seniors, it has been a very long time since they were last vaccinated for tetanus, diphtheria, or pertussis. This vaccination, also called the DTaP, should be boosted with another shot every ten years.

Finally, even if you received a chickenpox vaccine when you were younger, and regardless of whether or not you contracted the virus as a child, it’s important to receive the shingles vaccine as an adult, as the virus can present in a more painful and harmful way in later life. The risk of getting shingles goes up as you get older, with 50% of shingles cases happening in adults over the age of 60.

The CDC offers a free, downloadable Adult Immunization Scheduler so that older adults and their family members can keep track of the vaccinations that are needed as they age.

Hillendale Home Care can help encourage and facilitate proper immunizations as part of our home care in Walnut Creek and the surrounding areas. To learn more, contact us at 925-933-8181.