Despite an increased emphasis from the medical community in regards to the importance of immunizations for the elderly, a considerable segment is still not heeding the information – putting seniors at risk for serious illness, or even death. In fact, 1 out of 3 adults over age 65 opted not to receive a flu shot this past year; two out of three skipped the recommended shingles vaccine; and almost half of all seniors are not up to date on tetanus immunizations, per 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.”
Below are four principal vaccines that all older adults should receive – and now is the perfect time to make arrangements to take care of them just before flu season occurs.
- Influenza. Up to 85% of deaths from influenza every year occur in individuals aged 65 and above. Obtaining the flu vaccine can decrease the chance of death in seniors by up to 60%. Seniors should receive the vaccine specifically made for people 65 or over, which consists of four times as much antigen as vaccines for younger adults – addressing the needs of the weakened immune system that is natural to getting older.
- Pneumonia. While pneumonia in and of itself is very dangerous, there are specific issues that the elderly tend to be more vulnerable to develop as well; for example, meningitis and blood infections. The CDC recommends two vaccines for seniors to safeguard against pneumococcal disease, given one year apart – yet as few as 18% of seniors have historically received both shots.
- Shingles. With a new shingles vaccine currently available (Shingrix), it’s recommended that all seniors – even those previously vaccinated using the earlier version, Zostavax – get immunized. Two doses are needed, given six months apart, and the subsequent benefit is a better than 90% protection rate from the disease.
- TDaP. Protecting against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), this vaccine is particularly important for older adults spending time with babies under 12 months of age, as these diseases could be life-threatening in infants.
Although no vaccine is 100% effective, they are able to substantially decrease the potential for contracting illness, and even if an illness such as the flu or shingles does occur, it’s commonly less serious for individuals who have been immunized.
Absolute Companion Care’s highly trained caregivers are always here to provide transportation and accompaniment for senior loved ones to get vaccinations, and can assist in a variety of different ways to ensure optimal health and wellbeing. Reach out to us at 410-357-9640 to learn more about our top-rated companion care services in Towson and the surrounding areas, and get started on improving quality of life for a senior loved one today!