There has been so much back-and-forth discussion about COVID vaccines over the last year that I briefly hesitated to approach the subject of immunizations for seniors. However, the importance of getting and maintaining specific vaccines far outweighs my reasons for hesitancy.
I will preface the information I’m about to share by saying that the subject of vaccines are not typically political points of contention. After all, diseases and viruses do not discriminate based on your political affiliation. They wage their attacks on older people, and particularly, those with weakened immune systems, autoimmune deficiencies or underlying health conditions.
I do understand there are religious organizations and affiliations that do not support the use of vaccines, as well as one’s own personal belief systems. That’s fine. It’s your life. You can scroll through the following information, or select another of my informative or entertaining community blogs to read.
For the rest of my senior and caregiver audience, I would like to offer a friendly reminder about available immunizations (aside from the COVID vaccines), that are recommended for seniors ages 65+. The five immunizations the CDC recommends for seniors include: Influenza (Flu), Pneumococcal disease (Pneumonia), Shingles (Herpes Zoster), Hepatitis B, and Measles.
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 (age) 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 featuring NFL Hall of Fame and 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 you are healthy or have already suffered from the painful shingles virus.
According to the NCOA, “The liver and its function change as you age, making Hepatitis 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.” You should talk to your doctor if you are not sure you’ve been vaccinated against Hepatitis B, or if you may need a booster.
Most aging adults born before 1957 were likely exposed to measles and developed a natural immunity to the disease. After all, there was no vaccine available prior to that time to combat this highly contagious disease. However, if you were born in a different country, or you were born in America after 1957, but were never exposed to the virus or immunized against it, you should consult with your physician about whether you need a dose of the MMR vaccine, which is considered 93% effective in fighting the disease.
During Immunization Awareness Month, I will remind you that these vaccines are readily available to the public to aid in preventing critical and potentially fatal diseases, and all of these immunizations should be fully covered by Medicare.
Home Helpers® is staffed with compassionate caregivers who are happy to provide transportation assistance to doctor’s appointments or local pharmacies that offer immunizations. Experienced caregivers 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 an experienced caregiver? If so, I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and/or your senior loved one for a FREE consultation to discuss the services we provide. You are under no obligation to enlist any of our care services for seniors, but it is a great opportunity to learn more about how Home Helpers® can help you.
We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have received the Home Care Pulse – Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 & 2021. 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℠. 727.942.2539
National Council on Aging