Vaccinations save lives, as they can prevent some of the deadliest and most spreadable diseases such as tetanus, whooping cough, shingles, pneumococcal and meningococcal. Thanks to vaccinations, the risk of these deadly diseases have dropped exponentially, but it is still possible to contract a disease if you are not vaccinated against it.
By vaccinating, you can decrease your likelihood of ever contracting one of these diseases or build up an immunization.
Additionally, it is important for senior citizens to get a flu shot each year, as studies show that older adults are more susceptible to the flu, which can develop into more severe illnesses such as pneumonia. Therefore, it is incredibly important that you are aware of the different vaccinations that you should have and when you should receive them. To learn more about the vaccinations that are recommended for senior citizens, review the information that has been provided in the sections below.
What is a vaccination?
Vaccinations play an important role in keeping you healthy. While they are important throughout your life, they are especially important as you grow older. A vaccine is composed of small amounts of dead or weak germs that, in its living and strong state, would give you the disease that it safeguards against. By obtaining a vaccination, your body can build an immunity to a particular disease so that you do not get sick. Contrary to what you might have heard in the past, vaccines are completely safe and effective. They are held to the highest of safety standards and are given to millions of healthy people every year. Vaccines are tested extensively before they become available for use and then licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Yearly Flu Vaccinations
While the flu is generally mild, it can have some serious and even deadly complications for elderly individuals. The flu can be especially dangerous to senior citizens due to weakened immune systems, especially in the presence of certain medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes. The flu can also develop into pneumonia, which is a much more serious illness. In fact, one-third of all cases of pneumonia began as the flu. There is some speculation among the population that flu vaccination can give you the flu, which is a common misconception that can persuade citizens to skip this invaluable vaccination. There is no scientific evidence that suggests that you can get the flu from the flu vaccine. Therefore, it is important to take charge of your health and get a flu vaccination annually.
Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis (Tdap or Td)
The Tdap vaccination protects older adults from tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, all of which senior citizens are at risk of. While tetanus is a more uncommon disease, it is incredibly dangerous as the illness kills about 20 percent of the individuals inflicted with it. Those inflicted with the disease undergo painful muscle spasms that are strong enough to break bones and have difficulty breathing. Thanks to tetanus vaccinations, deaths from the disease have dropped in the United States by 99 percent since 1947.
In the 1920s, there were as many as 200,000 cases of diphtheria each year. Thanks to vaccinations, the number has dropped by 99.9 percent in America. Diphtheria can lead to serious health complications including paralysis, pneumonia and lung failure. It is most deadly to young children and senior citizens, who often die from the disease if inflicted.
Whooping cough is the most common of the three diseases and it can easily spread from one person to the next. It normally starts out with cold-like symptoms, so there are many people who spread the illness without even realizing they have it. Whooping cough can lead to pneumonia and convulsions, which can be deadly.
You should get your dose of Tdap if you did not get it as a child or a younger adult. After receiving the Tdap vaccination, it is recommended that you get a Td booster vaccination every 10 years in order to remain immunized to these terrible diseases. You can ask your doctor about these vaccinations at your next medical checkup.
Unfortunately, shingles is still a fairly common disease and it is estimated that nearly one in three people will get shingles within their lifetime. As you age, your likelihood of developing shingles increases, making it imperative that you receive a shingles vaccination. Shingles cause painful blisters and rashes that can lead to complications such as post-herpetic neuralgia, which is a condition that causes burning pain, lasting long after the shingles rashes and blisters recede. Fortunately, the shingles vaccination is currently 90 percent effective when it comes to preventing shingles. It is estimated that adults who are 50 years of age and older get this vaccination, even if they have previously had shingles.
While the pneumococcal disease is most common in children, it causes the most serious of complications in older adults. This is another contagious disease that is easily spreadable and it can lead to serious health problems such as:
- Infections in the lung.
- Infections in the brain.
- Infections in the spinal cord.
- Infections in the blood.
Not only is it deadly for older adults, but adults of all ages that live with certain illnesses. Fortunately, you will only need one vaccine for pneumococcal in your lifetime.
Meningococcal is another rare but deadly disease. In fact, meningococcal is so deadly that it can cause death within a few short hours. While it is most common in children and young adults, older adults can still contract this deadly disease. The disease causes serious infections within the lining of the brain, blood and spinal cord. Therefore, it is important to be vaccinated at some point in your lifetime.
Vaccinations to Get If You Did Not as a Child
There are additional vaccinations that you should get if you were not provided them as a child, including the following:
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Hepatitis A and B
- Hib (Haemophilus influenza)
Remember, these vaccinations could save your life.