Why is it important for adults 65 years and older to get vaccinated? As we get older, our bodies become more vulnerable to certain diseases 4. The immune system weakens in older adults, and it becomes harder to fight infections. Older adults have a greater risk of becoming sick and developing long term complications from illnesses 4. Vaccines are a preventative measure to reduce the severity or the risk of getting an illness. It is not only important to get vaccinated but as we get older to stay up to date with getting vaccines.
So what are the recommended vaccines for an adult 65 years and older? At that age, an adult should have received already vaccines for tetanus and diphtheria (Td), measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) if born later than 1957, and varicella 1. For adults who were more at risk for certain illness before 65, they could have received vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and meningitis 1. Many of those vaccines were given to adults when they were a child or a younger adult. Being 65 years or older, an adult is at risk for more diseases now such as the shingles, pneumonia, and whooping cough. Therefore, it is important to not only get new vaccinations but to continue to receive updated vaccinations to obtain the best coverage and protection from any infectious disease.
Moreover, it is recommended that an older adult should be protected from the flu, pneumonia, tetanus and diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), and the shingles. The flu vaccine should be given annually during flu season, and a higher dose of the flu vaccine is recommended in order to have greater coverage in protection5 . The pneumonia vaccine is given in two doses. If an adult has not received a pneumonia vaccine before 65 years old, then the PCV 13 vaccine should be given first and then a year later the PPSV23 vaccine should be given 1 . If an adults 65 years and older received the PPSV23 vaccine
first, then a year later the PCV13 vaccine should be given 1. The tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough vaccine is a booster shot of Td vaccine and is given every 10 years 3. Boostrix is the name of the vaccine that protects an adult 65 years or older from those three diseases 3. Lastly, adults 65 years and older should have received either the Zostavax or Shingrix vaccine for the prevention of shingles 1. If they haven’t by age 65, the Centers of Disease and Control recommends the Shingrix vaccine be given because it is a more effective vaccine than Zostavax. Shingrix is given in 2 doses 2- 6 months apart 2.
All of these vaccines are important in older adults to maintain their health and to sustain a
longer life. Vaccines may leave a bruise for a couple of days, but they are an investment for our health in the long run.
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Prevention of Pertussis, Tetanus, and Diphtheria with Vaccines in the United States:
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