national immunization awareness month: vaccines for older adults

August 8, 2022

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to get up to date on the recommended vaccines for your age group. Your primary care provider may recommend certain vaccines based on your health and medical conditions.

Defining Vaccines and Immunity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a vaccine is a substance introduced via needle, nose spray or oral consumption that stimulates your body’s immune response against disease.

There are two types of immunity:

  • Active immunity: Exposure to disease triggers a response from your immune system to produce antibodies. Active immunity lasts longer than passive immunity.
  • Passive immunity: You receive antibodies from an external source rather than produce them in your immune system. Passive immunity is immediate but will only last weeks or months.

Flu Vaccine

You may be at an increased risk for complications and hospitalization caused by the flu if you’re 65 or older or have health conditions such as asthma, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

The virus can cause fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, sore throat and congestion. It’s easily passed from person to person, so getting vaccinated before flu season reduces your risk of illness. Ideally, you should get vaccinated yearly in October, so your body has time to build immunity before flu season peaks in December and January.

Shingles Vaccine

Shingrix, or recombinant zoster vaccine, prevents shingles in older adults. The same virus causes shingles as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox as a child, the shingles virus is still in your system. This virus affects your nerves and causes an itchy or tingly rash. You may experience burning pain that persists after the blisters have healed.

You should get vaccinated against shingles if you’re 50 or older, whether you had chickenpox or not. The two-dose vaccine is not recommended if you currently have shingles or have a weakened immune system.

Tdap Vaccine

You should get a Tdap vaccine every ten years. It protects you from:

Tetanus: This bacterial infection results in painful muscle stiffness. It’s caused by punctures from piercings or injections, burns and contaminated wounds.

Diphtheria: You can experience difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis or death if you contract diphtheria. It’s a bacterial infection that’s passed by respiratory droplets.

Pertussis: Also known as whooping cough, pertussis is a contagious airway infection that causes violent coughing and difficulty breathing.

Pneumonia Vaccine

Viral, bacterial and fungal infections can result in pneumonia. It spreads through the air and affects your lungs. Roughly 50,000 die of pneumonia yearly, and seniors are at a greater risk for pneumonia-induced complications. The CDC recommends you get a pneumococcal vaccine if you’re 65 or older to protect yourself from serious infection.

COVID-19 Vaccine

This respiratory disease presents symptoms including shortness of breath, cough and fever. COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets and can lead to serious illness, hospitalization and death. The COVID-19 vaccine lowers your risk of contracting the disease or the severity of your symptoms. Older adults should stay up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.

Embassy Healthcare is committed to empowering vaccination to ensure the safety of our residents and staff. Contact us online to learn about our vaccination protocols.