With all of the kiddos going back to school and parents scrambling to get their children the required vaccinations, I think it’s an appropriate time to revisit the importance of immunizations for seniors and the maintenance of regular vaccination schedules, since August is National Immunization Awareness Month.
This year has seen a resurgence of measles, which was reported to be completely eradicated by the year 2000. Flu and pneumonia deaths have risen over the last several years, especially among the elderly. Shingles affects seniors more than any other age group.
For seniors, it is crucial to maintain regular vaccinations every year, due to the gradual suppression of our immune systems as we age. If you are age 60 or older, it is recommended that you consult with your physician about vaccines you should have, based upon your health, occupation, and geographic location.
According to the Centers for Disease Control [CDC], there are specific vaccines available to the public to aid in preventing critical and potentially fatal diseases, all of which should be covered by Medicare. The four immunizations for seniors that are recommended by the CDC include: Influenza (Flu), Pneumococcal disease (Pneumonia), Shingles (Herpes Zoster), and Hepatitis B. The measles vaccine may not be required if you born before 1957. Read more below.
Every year, 60% of all flu-related hospitalizations are seniors. Healthcare professionals suggest the public, and especially seniors, get a flu shot, because as strains change and become more resistant, vaccines are updated and formulated to battle this serious illness. If left untreated, the flu can easily lead to life-threatening pneumonia.
Pneumococcal disease vaccines help protect against pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious infections in the lungs and bloodstream. It is recommended for all adults over 65 years-old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions. “Pneumococcal disease kills 18,000 adults 65+ each year. A weakening immune system means that older adults are at greater risk, and can face more severe side effects, especially those who are managing chronic diseases,” says the National Council on Aging [NCOA].
You may have seen the television commercial with NFL Hall of Fame, former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, telling seniors about the horrors of shingles and the importance of getting vaccinated if you’ve ever had chicken pox. The fact is, “Almost one out of three individuals in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime.” The CDC recommends adults age 50 and older get a shingles vaccination, even if they are healthy or have already suffered from the painful virus.
According to the NCOA, “The liver and its function change as you age, making hep B more prevalent among older adults. Your risk of contracting hepatitis B increases if you have hemophilia, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), diabetes, or other conditions that lower resistance to infection. Acute hep B is particularly dangerous for older adults because there is no specific treatment for the symptoms.” Seniors should talk to their doctor if they are not sure they’ve been vaccinated against hep B, or if they need a booster.
You may notice the measles vaccine is not included on the list above. Most aging adults born before 1957, were likely exposed to the virus and developed a natural immunity to the disease, because there was no vaccine available. However, if a senior was born in a different country; or they were born in America after 1957, but was never exposed to the virus or immunized against it, they should consult with their physician about whether they need a dose of the MMR vaccine, which is considered 93% effective in fighting the disease.
Home Helpers® employs compassionate caregivers who provide transportation assistance to doctor’s appointments or local pharmacies that offer immunizations for seniors. They can help provide guidance and clarity with healthcare providers to keep immunization schedules accurate and on track annually, too.
Do you know a senior who could benefit from the assistance of a compassionate caregiver? If so, I would welcome the opportunity to sit down in a FREE consultation with you and your loved one at your convenience. You are under no obligation to enlist our services, but it is a great opportunity to learn more about how Home Helpers® really can help. 727.942.2539
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award for 2017, 2018 & 2019. We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠