In spite of a greater emphasis from the healthcare community about the importance of vaccinations for the elderly, a large percentage are still not heeding the advice – putting these older adults in jeopardy for serious illness or even death. In fact, 1 out of 3 adults over age 65 opted against receiving a flu shot this past year; 2 out of 3 skipped the recommended shingles vaccine; and almost half of all older adults are not up to date on tetanus immunizations, per the CDC.
Infectious-disease specialist William Schaffner, M.D., points out, “As we get older, our immune system becomes much less robust, which means we’re not just at risk for getting diseases like the flu and shingles but of developing life-threatening consequences from them.”
There are four principal vaccines that all older adults should receive – and now is the perfect time to make plans to take care of them right before flu season hits.
- Influenza. Nearly 85% of deaths from influenza each year occur in those aged 65 and above. Obtaining the flu vaccine can aid in reducing the possibility of death in seniors by as much as 60%. Seniors should be given the vaccine specifically designed for ages 65 or over, which consists of 4 times as much antigen as vaccines for younger adults – addressing the needs of the weakened immune system that is inherent to getting older.
- Pneumonia. While pneumonia in and of itself is very dangerous, there are a number of complications that seniors tend to be more prone to develop as well, such as meningitis and blood infections. The CDC recommends two vaccines for older adults to defend against pneumococcal disease, given one year apart – yet as few as 18% of seniors have typically received both shots.
- Shingles. With a new shingles vaccine currently available (Shingrix), it’s highly recommended that all seniors – even people previously vaccinated using the previous version, Zostavax – get immunized. Two doses are required, given six months apart, and the resulting benefit is a better than 90% protection rate from the disease.
- TDaP. Guarding against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), this vaccine is especially important for older adults spending time with babies under one year of age, since these diseases may be life-threatening in infants.
While no vaccine is 100% effective, they are able to significantly lower the possibility of contracting illness, and even if an illness such as the flu or shingles does occur, it is usually less severe for individuals who’ve been immunized.
Inspired Home Care’s professional caregivers are always available to provide transportation and accompaniment for senior loved ones to get vaccinations, and will aid in a number of different ways to ensure optimal health and wellbeing. Contact us at 847-787-7572 to learn more about our expert Barrington elder care and to get started on increasing quality of life for a senior you love!