Don’t Just Vaccinate Against the Flu

When we think of vaccinations, we think of children getting shots for childhood diseases, and then we think of senior citizens over the age of 65 getting flu shots. Times have changed, and to remain protected, there are a few vaccinations needed for protection throughout life.

While infectious diseases have declined, we cannot stop vaccinating or we would see epidemics again. Here is a list of vaccines recommended for older adults, according to the FDA:

FLU – Especially for people over 65, since most deaths occur in this age group. October – November is the best time to get a shot, but shots are available through December or later.

PNEUMONIA – Especially for people over 65. This can prevent serious infections of lungs, blood and covering of the brain.

TETANUS – A severe, often fatal disease with 20% of reported cases resulting in death. Get this booster shot every 10 years. If you can, get it after your birthday to help you remember your last booster!

DIPHTHERIA – This is for a bacteria producing toxins which can cause heart and nerve problems. This is rare in the US, but common in other parts of the world, so be diligent if you travel abroad.

WHOOPING COUGH – Severe coughing spasms. The vaccine for this disease is usually combined with diphtheria and tetanus, and is available for adults up to 64 years old.

SHINGLES – Painful skin rash with blister-like lesions usually on one small side of the body. For people 60 years and older, the risk for shingles begins at age 50 and increases.

MEASLES, MUMPS & RUBELLA (MMR) – Can lead to ear infections, pneumonia, seizures, deafness, meningitis and arthritis. Anyone born after 1956 should get at least one dose of the MMR vaccine unless they have had the vaccine or each of the three diseases (according to the CDC).

HEPATITIS B – A serious disease that affects the liver. All unvaccinated adults at risk for infection should be vaccinated.

Talk with your doctor to determine your vaccination history. In some cases, a blood test can show whether you have immunity to particular diseases.

If you plan to travel abroad, talk to your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your trip. Most vaccines take time to become effective.

FDA Consumer, Jan-Feb 2007

May 11, 2011 3:09 pm Published by