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October 12, 2015

Health News: What Older Adults Need to Know About Vaccines

Vaccines aren’t just for children. Older adults should receive them as well. And while you likely have heard about the necessity of the annual flu vaccine, older adults should also be receiving other vaccines.

As we age, our immune system weakens and getting annual or booster vaccines can help boost immunity.

But while vaccination rates for children have risen steadily over the last few years, the rates of older adults contracting vaccine-preventable diseases has gone up.

According to PBS Newshour, “... The rates for older adults getting flu, pneumonia, tetanus or shingles shots—the four most used vaccines among the elderly—have stayed stubbornly flat and trail national goals, according to the latest federal data. That leaves millions of older adults at risk of dying, being hospitalized, or, in the case of shingles, suffering debilitating effects that can last years.”

With fall flu vaccination season beginning, public health officials say they are disappointed by the above trends.

The flu vaccine is recommended annually for anyone aged 6 months or older. But one in three older adults skip the vaccine. Many vaccines have low adoption rates from older adults:

  • Four in 10 older adults aren’t vaccinated against pneumonia

  • Almost half of older adults aren’t vaccinated against tetanus

  • The shingles vaccine has the lowest adoption rate among older adults

Recommended Vaccines for Older Adults

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following vaccines for adults aged 60 and over:

  • The seasonal flu vaccine

  • The Tdap vaccine

  • Pneumococcal vaccines that protect against infections of the lungs and bloodstream

  • Zoster vaccine that protects against the shingles virus

You can get vaccines from your doctor’s office, walk-in clinics at many pharmacies and urgent care centers. At the latter locations no appointment is necessary.



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