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Vaccinations and Older Adults

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Vaccinations have fundamentally changed modern medicine especially for older adults.

 

We live in a country where today people are rarely diagnosed with polio, smallpox or the measles; having access to and receiving the proper vaccinations makes this a reality. Vaccinations have fundamentally changed modern medicine. Experts from the Gerontological Society of America argue that when it comes to saving people’s lives and reducing human disease, the invention and implementation of modern vaccinations has done more to improve public health than any other invention with the exception of the availability of safe drinking water. Vaccines help prevent many serious diseases, and as a result more than 6 million lives are saved each year. 

Vaccinations in the early stages of life are commonplace; most adults vaccinate their children. Conversely, in the U.S. many middle aged and older adults are not receiving necessary vaccinations that aid in preventing morbidities or early mortality. This is major public health concern. Experts argue that low rates of adult vaccinations and the resultant persistence of disease and unnecessary deaths related to vaccine-preventable disease are unacceptable. 

According to the CDC, there are some diseases that particularly impact adults over 65, the most common being pneumonia and shingles. Older people may be at greater risk of developing the conditions; proper vaccines will help prevent infections in the blood and lungs. The herpes zoster vaccine helps prevent shingles in older adult populations. 

IMPORTANT VACCINATIONS FOR SENIORS 

Getting vaccinated is an important part of healthy aging. Consult with your health care provider to see if these vaccines are right for you. Important CDC-recommended vaccinations for older adults include: 

• INFLUENZA (Flu) 

• SHINGLES (Herpes Zoster) 

• DIPHTHERIA, TETANUS, PERTUSSIS (Whooping Cough) 

• HEPATITIS B 

• PNEUMOCOCCAL DISEASE (Pneumonia) 

For the list of vaccinations by age group recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/ downloads/adult/adult-combined-schedule-bw.pdf Check with your Medicare provider about where you can get them. Protect your health by getting vaccinated. 

 

Lydia Manning is a gerontologist, educator and entrepreneur with a wide range of experience in the field of aging. She is an associate professor of gerontology at Concordia University Chicago. Dr. Manning received her Ph.D. in social gerontology from the Department of Sociology and Gerontology at Miami University.