Vaccines are an important part of protecting the community, particularly seniors, who are a vulnerable section of society. Vaccine schedules begin at birth and are focused on protecting the world’s population from deadly and disfiguring diseases that are easily spread from person to person. As you can imagine, when people live in close quarters to each other and share a common area — like at an assisted living facility, for instance — protecting vulnerable populations against infectious disease becomes slightly more challenging and much more important. Join us in today’s post as we discuss the vaccine recommendations for seniors.
Recommended Vaccines For Seniors
The immunization schedule that we discuss in the post assumes that you have had all of the routine childhood and adult vaccines prior to your 50th birthday. You can view the full vaccine schedule here and if you have not had some of these vaccines, you can use the adult catch-up schedule for those vaccines that you are age-eligible for — some are not recommended after a certain age.
An influenza vaccine is recommended for all people ages 6 months and older. There is no upper age limit for the flu vaccine, and it is especially recommended for those who live in a congregated setting and those who are a vulnerable population — the very young, the elderly, the immune-compromised, or those who are pregnant. Influenza is spread very easily among populations and symptoms can vary from very mild to severe. Those in high-risk populations, including seniors, are at a particular risk for severe, and potentially fatal, reactions. Influenza can pose great risks to seniors that include pneumonia and other complications and the greatest number of flu-related deaths are among those in the 60+ age group.
Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis
Many people have, at some point in their lives, received a tetanus vaccine, usually as Td (tetanus and diptheria vaccine). It is recommended to have a boost every 10 years, unless there is an event that would warrant having a booster earlier — eg. stepping on a rusty nail. What is of particular value in the TDaP is the P — pertussis. Pertussis is the whooping cough and can be fatal to vulnerable populations including infants, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. It is recommended that if you have not previously received this immunization, you should receive a TDaP vaccine once in your life, then each subsequent tetanus booster can be either a Td or TDaP immunization.
Because you can only get chickenpox once in your life, it was common practice for a very long time to have “pox parties” and intentionally spread the virus to “get it out of the way at a young age.” However, it is now much better understood that the same virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles. Unlike itchy chickenpox, shingles is a very painful, blistering rash that causes nerve pain and potentially permanent nerve damage. It is recommended that people over the age of 50 receive a zoster vaccine to cut the chances of shingles in half.
Older adults (aged 50+) should be vaccinated against bacterial pneumonia that can cause respiratory difficulty, meningitis, and deadly blood infections — sepsis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults aged 65 and older (or younger in certain populations) should receive one of both the Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23 to prevent against 13 and 23, respectively, pneumonia strains. For more information about the pneumococcal vaccines, check out these online resources:
At Marina Isle waterfront assisted living center in Sanford, Florida, the health and wellbeing of our residents is our primary focus. We go to great lengths to protect our residents against disease, including monitoring of conditions, community referrals, isolation precautions, and offering routine vaccines or finding access to community assets for the full vaccine list. We want all of our community members to feel safe and avoid the risk of spreading a vaccine-preventable disease throughout our facility and the Sanford community. Let us help you stay healthy, contact us today!