August is National Immunization Awareness Month. At Home Care Assistance, we know that even seniors who have received certain vaccines as a child should be vaccinated for serious diseases that can cause very harmful consequences, including death. People age 65 or older are at higher risk of complications from these diseases (should they get them), so they should not take the recommendations lightly. An estimated 45,000 adults needlessly die each year from such complications, which could have been prevented with proper vaccinations.
Recommended Vaccines for Seniors
There are several vaccines that are available to seniors at low cost or covered on their medical plans. Make sure to check with your physician if you need to schedule immunization from a vaccine preventable disease. Below are some of the diseases for which vaccinations are strongly suggested.
Seasonal Influenza (Flu)
Recommended each fall, before the winter flu season begins. Vaccinations change each year depending on the influenza strain.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
One-time dose for those age 60 and over, whether or not the individual has had shingles or chickenpox in the past.
Pneumonia (pneumococcal vaccine)
One-time dose; can repeat dose once if 5 years have passed since the original vaccination.
Those under 64 should get this vaccine with the pertussis (whooping cough) component.
Those 64 or older should get this vaccine without the pertussis component.
Several lesser-known yet critical vaccines are also advised:
Adults born during or after 1957 should receive this; those born before 1957 are considered immune. Those immunized in the past may need a booster shot.
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Seniors with certain risk factors should be vaccinated for these diseases. A physician can provide details.
Recommended for elderly persons with blood disorders such as leukemia, HIV infection and chronic renal failure.
Most diseases are caused by a bacterial germ or virus. Vaccines to help prevent these diseases are usually created with a weakened form of the germ specific to that disease. While side effects might occur, avoiding the immunization is more dangerous and could put you or others that come in contact with you at risk.
Mild side effects can occur within 2 weeks of receiving the vaccine. Common problems include fever, abdominal pain, headaches, stuffy nose, and joint pain. Reactions to the area where the shot was given can be tenderness, bruising, redness or itching. Contact your physician if these symptoms appear to be causing unusual pain or concern. Severe side effects can occur at the time of the vaccine or even up to 6 months later. Call a physician immediately if you are concerned about a reaction to a vaccine. Some problems to be aware of are blood in the urine, pneumonia, inflammation of the stomach, serious allergic reaction, seizure and high fever.
Talking with a doctor is the best way to learn which vaccinations are best for the seniors in your life. Our home care services specialists can work with physicians to ensure your loved ones get the immunizations they need. For more information, call Home Care Assistance in Fort Worth, or visit http://www.homecareassistancefortworth.com