Insights from The Orlando Senior Help Desk: Vaccines for older adults
September 22, 2023
As you get older, a health care provider may recommend vaccinations, also known as shots or immunizations, to help prevent or curtail certain illnesses.
Talk with a doctor or pharmacist about which of the following vaccines you need.
Flu - Flu is short for influenza. It is a virus that can cause fever, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache, and muscle aches. Flu is very serious when it gets in your lungs. Older adults are at a higher risk for developing serious complications from the flu, such as pneumonia. Flu is very contagious.
Pneumonia - Pneumococcal disease is a serious infection that spreads from person to person by air. It often causes pneumonia in the lungs and it can affect other parts of the body. Older adults are at higher risk than younger people of getting very sick or dying from pneumococcal disease. The CDC recommends that adults age 65 and older get pneumonia shots.
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) - Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are diseases caused by bacteria that can lead to serious illness and death.
Tetanus (sometimes called lockjaw) is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust, and manure. It can enter the body through a deep cut or burn.
Diphtheria is a serious illness that can affect the tonsils, throat, nose, or skin.
Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, causes uncontrollable, violent coughing fits that make it hard to breathe.
The CDC recommends that adults get a Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) or Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.
Shingles - Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. As you get older, the virus could become active again and cause shingles. Shingles affects the nerves. Common symptoms include burning, shooting pain, tingling, and/or itching, as well as a rash with fluid-filled blisters.
Healthy adults age 50 and older should consider getting vaccinated with the shingles vaccine even if they have had chicken pox. Shingrix, which is given in two doses.
Covid - COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that causes symptoms such as fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Older adults are more likely than younger people to get very sick from COVID-19. The disease can lead to serious illness and death.
Some studies show that COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of getting this disease. The vaccine may help keep you from getting seriously ill or having to go to the hospital if you do get COVID-19.
Travel Vaccines - Check with a doctor, a pharmacist, or your local health department about vaccines you need if you’re planning to travel to other countries. The vaccines that are required and recommended are based on your destination. Sometimes multiple vaccines or doses are needed. It’s best to get them at least four to six weeks before you travel to allow time to build up immunity and get the best protection. For more information, visit the CDC website or call its information line at 800-232-4636.
It’s a good idea to keep your own vaccination record, listing the types and dates of your shots, along with any side effects or problems.
For more information about shots and vaccines:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 800-232-4636, 888-232-6348 (TTY), email@example.com, http://www.cdc.gov.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 301-592-8573, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 866-284-4107, 800-877-8339 (TTY), email@example.com, http://www.niaid.nih.gov, Vaccines.gov, 800-232-0233, 888-720-7489 (TTY), http://www.vaccines.gov.
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