Share This Article:
Vaccines for Healthy Aging
Aging is a fact of life. Aging well, however, is a choice for many. From eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet to daily exercise to maintaining an active social calendar - making these choices as you age can promote good overall health. The healthier you are as you age, the greater are your chances for living independently in the comfort of your own home.
One of the most important choices seniors can make to promote healthy aging is to vaccinate themselves against illnesses and diseases that can be detrimental to their health and sometimes even fatal. Some of these vaccinations are commonly given to babies and children whose immune systems have not had a chance to fully develop. Vaccinations become important again as seniors reach the age of 60 and older because immune systems become weaker with age, or as a result of medical conditions, seniors may suffer and even as a consequence of some medications they take.
The following is a short list of vaccinations available for seniors. Seniors should consult with their physicians to determine which ones they need to prevent illness and maintain good health.
Flu vaccinations are recommended every year for all seniors. Flu season strikes in the fall and winter months can be debilitating and can even cause death for some. The earlier in the season you can get vaccinated the better as the vaccine usually takes approximately two weeks to become fully effective.
Pneumonia vaccinations are important, especially for seniors who may have weak immune systems. While the vaccine only protects against some types of pneumonia, it can be key in preventing pneumonia that presents as a result of a bout with respiratory flu. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends those 65 and younger be vaccinated only if there are specific job related or disease-related reasons. The CDC recommends one pneumonia vaccination after age 65. The CDC indicates that following this recommendation will create immunity for life. Like all vaccines, you should seek a physician's advice before getting vaccinated.
Shingles vaccinations can prevent this painful disease from striking older adults, but should not be administered to those who have compromised immune systems. Guidance from a physician is crucial to determine eligibility for this vaccination. Shingles is a skin condition that can be excruciatingly painful for months or even years. Extreme cases - and depending on where shingles affect the body - can cause vision and hearing loss, swelling of the brain, and even death.
Whooping cough (pertussis) vaccination is a one-shot combination of three immunizations for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Typically, infants receive a series of these within their early growing years. However, booster shots are recommended for those 65 years and older, and especially for seniors who expect to be around children, who can die from the infection. Whooping cough starts with cold-like symptoms but then turns into a severe dry cough that can last for many months and can cause broken ribs and pneumonia in some cases.
Each year, thousands of adults experience complications, including death, as a result of contracting illnesses that can be prevented by vaccinations. Older adults, specifically seniors age 60 and over, should talk to their physicians about what vaccinations are necessary and when the immunizations should be administered. Making an educated choice to receive vaccinations can facilitate seniors' goals in achieving health, happiness and independence as they age.
Florida Department of Health (2011).Healthy aging: adults need vaccinations to stay well. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from sarasotahealth.org
Facts about whooping cough for adults. Retrieved on October 10, 2012 from adultvaccination.com/vpd/pertussis/facts.html.