Resources: Senior Health Issues at Hebrew SeniorLife

Vaccines for Seniors

We all know that vaccines are an important piece of preventive health care for children. But did you know that immunizations are equally important as we get older?

The Centers for Disease Control reports that each year, about 42,000 adults in the U.S. die from illnesses that could have been prevented.

“Seniors are at greater risk for health complications from viruses like the flu and whooping cough,” says Dr. Jennifer Rhodes-Kropf, a geriatrician at HSL Medical Group. “This is especially true for people with chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease. In addition, immunity from vaccinations you had as a child may have faded, and new vaccines are becoming available. It’s an important tool in any senior’s wellness plan.”

Here are the CDC-recommended immunizations for adults age 65 and older:

  • Flu – An annual flu shot is the best defense against the virus and the serious complications that it can cause. The best time to get vaccinated is in the early fall, before flu season starts.
  • Shingles – In some people, the virus that causes chicken pox recurs years later as shingles. Half of all cases occur in people age 60 and over. You can have shingles more than once, so even if you’ve had it, you should still get a shingles vaccine (also known as the Zoster vaccine).
  • Pneumococcal – This vaccine protects against pneumococcal bacteria, which can cause pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis. Anyone can get pneumococcal disease, but seniors are more likely to experience long-term complications or even death.
  • Tdap – The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Most people receive this vaccine when they’re young, but immunity fades over time. The CDC recommends a booster shot every 10 years for all adults.

Your doctor may recommend other vaccines based on your health history and other risk factors, like travel abroad.

If you would like to evaluate your need for vaccines or discuss other senior health concerns, contact HSL Medical Group at Center Communities of Brookline.

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