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4 Vaccines All Seniors Should Receive

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

As we age, our ability to ward off disease weakens, increasing our risk of becoming sick. Also, immunizations received when we were younger can lose effectiveness over time. Below, Fairfield senior home care professionals highlight four vaccines recommended for seniors over age 65.

Influenza

Obtaining an annual flu vaccine protects against the virus and its complications, such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Elderly folks who have asthma, diabetes, or an immune disorder are especially vulnerable to the flu. A high-dose version of the flu shot is available for adults age 65 and older. The formulation, called Fluzone, is four- times stronger than the standard dose. The vaccine hikes antibody levels, providing 24 percent more protection than the standard version. The CDC reports that only two percent of vaccinated people incur adverse reactions, which include low-grade fever, muscle aches, and soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site.

Pneumonia

According to the CDC, a senior with pneumonia will likely end up hospitalized. However, pneumococcal vaccines protect against the illness and its complications, including ear infection, blood infection, and meningitis, which can be life-threatening. Pneumonia can also trigger hearing loss, blindness, heart problems, seizures, and paralysis. The risk of pneumonia among seniors is nearly 10 times that of young adults. Therefore, the CDC recommends immunization for all people over age 65. It’s advised to obtain both versions of the vaccine, Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax. Both vaccines may cause discomfort at the injection site in the form of mild soreness, redness, and swelling, disappearing in a few days. Fewer than one percent of vaccinated persons may develop fever and muscle aches.

Shingles

Immunization reduces the risk of varicella, a latent form of chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus remains in their nerve roots. In some people, it becomes active again, rather than staying dormant. Since the risk of shingles increases with age, the CDC recommends the vaccine for people age 60 and older. Zostavax protects against viral activity. Complications of shingles include vision changes and impaired thinking. Pain can last for months or years after a rash resolves, a condition termed post-herpetic neuralgia. The CDC advises seniors to obtain the vaccine whether or not they recall having chickenpox. They should also be vaccinated even if they’ve already had shingles since it can flare more than once.
Possible adverse reactions include headache and irritation at the injection site in the form of soreness, redness, itching, and swelling.

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis or Tdap

Seniors who obtain the Tdap vaccine receive protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Tetanus is a bacterial infection resulting from skin puncture by an object that’s dusty, dirty, or rusty. Mild adverse reactions to this vaccine include fatigue, headache, low-grade fever, stomach upset, swollen glands, muscle aches, and discomfort at the injection site in the form of swelling, redness, and pain.

For more information on senior health and wellness, turn to the friendly staff at Home Care Assistance. We offer hourly, live-in, and respite care Fairfield families trust and ensure your aging parent or relative has the support needed to remain safe and healthy in the comfort of home. Call our office today at 203-955-1915 and schedule a free in-home consultation with a dedicated Care Manager.