As summer comes to a close and students head back to school, it means that cold and flu season is right around the corner. While illnesses like a cold or the flu tend to be harmless to most people, older adults are often at a greater risk for complications from them. Knowing vaccine recommendations and encouraging loved ones to get vaccinated can help greatly reduce those risks.
Vaccines play an important role in protecting people from severe illness, particularly older adults. Many people have weakened immune systems due to age or to chronic illnesses, which can make contracting the flu more dangerous. While an otherwise healthy young person might be able to stay home and nurse a flu for a few days, a person in their 70s or 80s is more likely to experience severe symptoms or even end up hospitalized from the same illness.
What Are the Vaccine Recommendations for Seniors?
To follow are the top vaccines that doctors recommend people age 65 and over receive:
- Influenza vaccine: While the flu shot is not 100 percent effective at preventing the virus, it does greatly decrease a person’s chance of getting it. The flu vaccine is recommended for both children and adults, and there is a special emphasis for those over the age of 65. People with certain medical conditions are also encouraged to get the flu shot due to heightened risk of complications.
- Pneumonia vaccine: Pneumonia causes an inflammation in the lungs which can be serious even for young, healthy individuals. For older adults, and those with chronic health issues, the infection poses significant risk, which is why getting vaccinated is highly recommended.
- COVID-19 vaccine: There isn’t yet a vaccine that will prevent contracting COVID-19. However, the current COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to greatly reduce a person’s chances of severe illness from the virus.
- Tetanus and pertussis vaccine: Tetanus is caused by a bacteria found in dust, manure, and soil that enters the body through a break in the skin. The disease can be deadly. While most people are vaccinated against tetanus as children, boosters are recommended every 10 years. Today, tetanus shots are usually combined with pertussis, or whooping cough, vaccines. Whooping cough is also a serious and sometimes deadly infection for children and older adults. Even if a person received a pertussis vaccine as a child, immunity can wane over time. Talk to the senior’s doctor to see if a booster is needed.
- Shingles vaccine: Shingles is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. If a person has had chickenpox before, the virus remains in the nervous system and may reemerge as shingles. Shingles causes a painful rash that can be disabling until it clears. The shingles vaccine can help prevent the reemergence of the painful virus for seniors.
- RSV vaccine: Respiratory Syncytial virus or RSV is a seasonal illness that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. If RSV makes its way into the lungs, causing lower respiratory tract disease, it can lead to life-threatening complications in babies and older adults. Two newly-approved vaccines aim to protect vulnerable people from severe RSV and are recommended for people ages 60 years and older. Speak with a senior’s physician to discuss which RSV vaccine is recommended this fall.
Are Vaccines Safe?
The simple answer is, yes. Vaccines pose minimal risks to the general population, and serious complications from vaccines are rare. If you have any concerns about a particular vaccination, talk to the doctor about them. He or she can help determine if you are at risk for any serious side effects.
How Can In-Home Care Services Help?
The services of a referred care provider from American, Advocate, or Whitsyms In-Home Care can help older loved ones stay safe, happy, and healthy all through the year. Referred care providers can provide transportation to vaccine appointments, monitor for side effects, ensure the older adult’s home is clean and sanitary to help prevent transmission of illnesses, and much more.
Contact us to learn more about how a referred care provider can help older loved ones stay healthy during cold and flu season and throughout the year. Click the link to the location nearest you below:
- American In-Home Care – Serving North, Central, and West Coast of Florida
- Advocate In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
- Whitsyms In-Home Care – Serving Southeast and Southwest Florida
State of Florida License and Registration Numbers: 30211518, 30211651, 30211295, 30211390, 30210978, 30211293, 30211382, 30211504, 30211733, 30211535, 30211531, 30211710, 30211709, 30211045, 5661