It’s August in South Florida, hot, muggy and the – National Immunization Month -. It’s also a month for awareness and to address a general misconception about vaccines. They are not for children only.
As you get older, your immune system weakens and it can be more difficult to fight off infections. You’re more likely to get diseases like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles. You can also have complications that can lead to long-term illness, hospitalization, and even death.
If you have an ongoing health condition getting vaccinated is especially important. Vaccines can protect you from serious diseases so you can stay healthy as you age. Scientists have proven that cooler temperatures weaken our immune system, making us more susceptible to illness and infection. The immune system naturally weakens with age, which means winter can be even more dangerous.
Recommended Vaccines for ages 50+
Older adults even if you are healthy are at higher risk when it comes to the flu due to age-related weakening of our immune systems, making it more difficult to fight off disease. For the 86% of adults 65+ who are managing a chronic condition the flu can be even more dangerous. Flu combined with pneumonia is one of the top 10 causes of death for those aged 65+ in the U.S. According to the CDC, the flu vaccination is the best way to stay healthy.
Researchers believe that the age-related weakening of our immune systems can trigger the “reawakening” of the dormant chickenpox virus. One in three adults contracts shingles at some point in their life and the older you are when you get shingles, the more likely you are to have severe side effects, like fever, exhaustion and loss of appetite. These can lead to malnutrition, physical deterioration and/or additional infections. Whether you remember having chickenpox as a child or not, you should still talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated.
The liver and its function change as you age, making hep B more prevalent among older adults. Your risk of contracting hepatitis B increases if you have hemophilia, end-stage renal disease (ESRD), diabetes, or other conditions that lower resistance to infection. Acute hep B is particularly dangerous for older adults because there is no specific treatment for the symptoms.
Pneumococcal disease causes severe infections throughout the bloodstream and/or key organs. While you may not have heard of pneumococcal disease, you have probably heard of the conditions that result from this disease, including pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia. Pneumococcal disease kills 18,000 adults 65+ each year. A weakening immune system means that older adults are at greater risk, and can face more severe side effects, especially those who are managing chronic diseases.
We encourage you to ask your doctor and/or pharmacist for more information. Medicare Part B covers vaccines that protect against the flu and pneumococcal disease and the hepatitis B vaccine if you’re at increased risk for hepatitis B. It also covers vaccines that you might need after an injury or coming into contact with a disease. Medicare Part D plans generally cover more vaccines than Part B. But depending on your Medicare Part D plan, you may have out-of-pocket costs for these vaccines.
CDC Vaccine Schedule Apps
- Download here for IOS and Android.
- Adult Immunization Schedule click here.
- The Adult Vaccine Quiz click here.