Immunizations play an important role in protecting us from disease and potentially dangerous infections. The protective properties in immunizations are especially relevant for young children and older adults over 65 as they are the two most vulnerable of age groups.
Here are three vaccines that come highly recommended for adults aged 65 years and older:
Shingles. Did you ever have chickenpox as a child? You probably suspected the condition was cleared from your system, never to be contended with again. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
The virus that leads to chickenpox actually lies dormant in the system, and can reawaken many decades later in the form of a painful condition known as shingles. What follows are enormously uncomfortable episodes where you experience itching, tingling, rashing, and blistering on patches of your skin. While this common condition is usually temporary, it can lead to chronic nerve pain which may persist for a number of years.
How common is shingles? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 1 in 3 people in the world will contract it in their lifetime. Fortunately, a simple vaccination can prevent the occurrence of shingles.
The vaccine, called Zostavax, is recommended for anyone aged 60 or over, even if they don’t recall ever having the chickenpox as a child.
Influenza. Contracting the flu can be a nasty proposition for anyone, but it can be particularly daunting for seniors. The aging process weakens our immune system, therefore placing us at greater risk of developing the flu. Seniors over the age of 65 make up nearly 90% of all flu-related deaths.
That’s why it’s imperative that seniors receive their flu shot every year as soon as it becomes available to them. A higher dose flu shot is made available for seniors aged 65 and older which will offer even greater protection and immune system response in defense against the virus.
Pneumonia. When pneumonia strikes, it serves as barrier for oxygen in your bloodstream, causing great stress and damage to your cells and the retention of liquid in the air sacs of your lungs. The condition can be quite severe and can even lead to death.
A vaccine exists for pneumonia – called the pneumococcal vaccine – is recommended for people aged 65 years or older, and those who have conditions such heart or lung disease, asthma and diabetes, have a weakened immune system, smoke, or live in a nursing home or care facility.
While most will only require a single dose of pneumococcal vaccination, some may need to receive a second dose after the passage of five years.
For more information on these or any additional immunizations, check with your primary care physician.