Which Vaccinations are Important for Seniors?
There is considerable debate around just how effective vaccinations are for preventing illness. There are several vaccinations that are critical to seniors’ health and well being and should not be neglected. It is estimated that around 50,000 adults across Canada die every year from illnesses and diseases that could have been prevented with vaccination.
Vaccinations have been helpful in the prevention of a variety of known illnesses and diseases. If not prevented, these various illnesses can result in severe health complications and can even be fatal.
So, what do seniors need to know about vaccinations?
Vaccination & Immunization
A vaccination is when a vaccine treatment is administered to help the immune system build up protection against a particular disease or illness. Vaccines are weakened versions of the illness that encourage the production of antibodies to help the body develop an immunity to that illness.
Immunization occurs once the vaccine has done its intended job and the body is now immune to the targeted disease.
Why are vaccines necessary for seniors?
As we get older, our immune systems begin to weaken and are no longer quite as effective at protecting the body from illness and infection. This makes seniors more susceptible to contracting illnesses, and then also more likely to develop further health complications as a result.
Seniors may not have been vaccinated when they were children, so should take the time to do it now. Even if vaccinations were previously administered, there are now new vaccinations available that can offer better protection. The effectiveness of vaccines tends to diminish over time and should be reapplied every so often, as recommended by a health care professional.
Which Vaccinations are Beneficial for Seniors?
There are certain vaccines that should be of great interest to seniors in order to preserve health and prevent disease.
Maintaining a healthy diet is massively important for older adults that want to keep living an independent lifestyle. The importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. Nutrients are the building blocks that give us the energy to carry out daily functions and ward off illness and disease.
Some of the vaccines that seniors should be targeting, include:
- Tetanus – Diphtheria – Pertussis (Tdap)
- Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
The flu virus is something we have all been dealing with since we were kids, The flu is a different story for seniors though, many people over the age of 65 end up in the hospital during flu season because they didn’t get vaccinated and the illness escalated into something more serious.
It is recommended for seniors to get an influenza vaccination once a year due to the temporary protection it provides. Flu viruses are constantly changing and adapting, which is why new influenza vaccinations are developed each year.
The pneumococcal vaccine helps protect the body against bacterial pneumonia. This vaccine guards against infection that can be caused by a bacteria called pneumococcus. This bacteria has been known to develop into pneumonia and meningitis. These illnesses can further progress into more serious issues like blood infections and complications with the central nervous system. The vaccine is quite effective in preventing the illness for older adults.
The zoster vaccination, also called the herpes zoster, offers protection against shingles. Shingles is an extremely painful medical condition that is characterized by an itching, burning rash with fluid-filled blisters. The herpes zoster virus is also known as the chicken pox. Shingles is a reactivation of the old chicken pox virus. If you had chicken pox as a kid, you are at risk for developing shingles.
The zoster vaccination can reduce the risk of shingles by about 50%, or can minimize the severity of the outbreak. It is highly recommended for anyone over 60 years of age.
Tetanus – Diphtheria – Pertussis (Tdap)
The Tdap vaccine is a 3-in-1 shot that helps protect against tetanus, diphtheria (cold-like virus), and pertussis (whooping cough). This vaccine is recommended for people over the age of 65, with the tetanus booster being reapplied every 10 years.
Measles – Mumps – Rubella (MMR)
This is a one-time vaccine that covers protection for measles, mumps, and rubella. This vaccination is only recommended if you have not received a shot for it in the past.