5 Important Immunizations for Seniors

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, when we are taking a look at what immunizations are important for people over 60. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to do all we can to keep seniors safe and well. Although no one likes getting a shot, these recommended by our in-home respite care team are worth the benefits!

Why Immunizations Matter

We all remember getting shots as kids, especially in our early years – but vaccines are not just for the young. Not only can protection from vaccines wear off over time, we can also become exposed to different health risks as we get older and develop certain health conditions, or even travel.

Immunizations not only help prevent seniors from getting diseases (many of which can be far more serious as we get older, especially if other health issues are present), they also help prevent seniors from spreading diseases to friends, family and caregivers. By avoiding illness (and the medical bills that come along with treatment), seniors can stay healthy, fit, and enjoy life.

These Vaccines are a Priority for Over-60s:

  1. Seasonal Influenza – Each year, scientists develop a vaccine for the flu season based on what influenza strains are most likely to emerge. There are many different strains, so this best prediction can’t prevent influenza 100% of the time, but it will cover the most common ones to help keep you safe. This vaccine needs to be given at about the same time each year before the flu season.
  2. Tdap – This is the tetanus, diphtheria vaccine which protects against whooping cough as well as lockjaw, a bacterial infection that affects the nervous system. Surprisingly, we can easily pick up this potentially fatal infection from environmental contamination from wounds, including injuries from nails and splinters, animal bites, and contact with soil and compost. Even if you had this vaccine as a child, you should get a booster shot after age 50.
  3. Shingles – Recently, my over-50s mother got the shingles vaccine after she saw what a friend who contracted the virus went through – the recovery time  and the pain of her experience o convinced her it was worth the shot. Caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox in children, it leads to painful rashes of blisters on the body in adults. The shingles vaccine can be taken as a booster shot if you had chickenpox as a child.
  4. PCV13 – Pneumonia is a devastating infection for seniors, and the second most common cause for hospitalization among Medicare patients. It can also be deadly, with a 20% mortality rate for severe infections. Fortunately, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects against serious pneumococcal disease (severe ear, sinus, and bloodstream infections) and pneumonia. This is an especially important vaccine if you have conditions that reduce the ability of your immune system to fight infections.
  5. PPSV23 – This vaccine is the pneumococcal polysaccharide immunization, which works with the PVC13 vaccine to prevent serious pneumococcal disease, pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.

Are There Seniors Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

For seniors who suffer from specific health disorders, some vaccines may not be recommended. If you have any concerns, it is best to talk with your doctor to get advice specific to your case and health condition.

Generally, the Centers for Disease Control recommend that you don’t get any vaccine while you are moderately to severely ill, and rather wait until you are feeling better to have a vaccine.

If you are struggling to care for a senior parent while you are home or need a caregiver to look after an elderly parent temporarily or permanently, get in touch with our senior independent home care team. From assistance around the home to respite care and palliative care, we can assist you and your parent through the COVID-19 pandemic.