While there have been strong campaigns to raise awareness for an annual flu vaccine, did you know that there are several vaccines recommended especially for seniors? These include annual vaccines and boosters of other vaccines.

The influenza (flu) vaccine, for example, is seasonal and it’s recommended to receive one every year. Why is it needed each year? As Vaccines.gov explains, “…flu viruses are constantly changing, the formulation of the flu vaccine is reviewed each year and sometimes updated to keep up with changing flu viruses.”

Boosters, however, are recurring vaccines designed to support the immune system, “boosting” the effectiveness of the original vaccine. For example, tetanus shots are recommended for adults every 10 years. (Tetanus is a bacterial infection resulting from a break in the skin and exposure to contaminates.)

Home Health Care’s Role

Your care management team from Premier Home Health Care, Inc. can work with clients’ physicians to maintain a proper vaccination schedule. It’s important to review medical histories for previous vaccinations, as any possible reactions to vaccines or other considerations may impact a recommendation.

Once a vaccination schedule is determined, Premier’s team can ensure that appointments to receive vaccines are made, and that clients are provided with escort services where applicable, to and from appointments. Our home health care staff will also monitor our clients prior to and following any vaccine to determine if illness, for example, may delay a scheduled vaccination, or if there is any sign of a reaction once vaccinated.

Recommended Vaccines for Adults 60+

  • Influenza
    • 1 dose annually
  • Tdap
    • Tdap once
    • Then Td booster every 10 years
  • Varicella
    • 2 doses
  • Zoster
    • 1 dose
  • Pneumococcal
    • 1 dose of Pneumococcal 13-valent (PCV13)
    • 1 dose of Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23) 6 -12 months after the PCV13 vaccine

The Flu Shot

Campaigns to promote the flu vaccine from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and medical community have been effective in sparking dialog and raising awareness, but some misconceptions about the vaccine persist. Some of the most common myths or misunderstandings about the influenza vaccine are that it’s better to just get the flu or that the vaccine itself can cause the flu.

As the CDC explains, some patients who receive the flu shot do experience mild reactions, which (in addition to soreness at the injection site) can include a low-grade fever and mild aches lasting 1-2 days, but they note that the “…most common reactions people have to flu vaccine are considerably less severe than the symptoms caused by actual flu illness.”

Flu can have serious complications. These can be especially dangerous for those with compromised immune systems or chronic health conditions such as COPD, diabetes and heart disease.

Whooping Cough, Tetanus and Diphtheria

Tdap is a combined vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). Not only is it important for seniors to be protected from these diseases for their own health, but others they have contact with must be protected as well. For adults who have never received a Tdap vaccine, it is recommended that they get one.

Pertussis, for example, is a bacterial infection that is usually spread through coughing and sneezing. It can be very serious, particularly in babies. Infants can develop pneumonia and even stop breathing. Transmission of the disease is often a result of exposure to people who aren’t aware they have the disease.

Chickenpox and Shingles

The varicella-zoster virus causes chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (varicella-zoster), usually causing a blistering rash. Chickenpox is often considered the milder of the two, but before the chickenpox vaccine was licensed in 1995, per the CDC, 100 people died annually from the disease. Additionally, there were 11,000 people hospitalized per year.

The chickenpox vaccine is credited with preventing more than 50,000 hospitalizations from the years 2000 – 2006 alone. This vaccine is recommended for any adult who has never had chickenpox or received the vaccine previously.

Anyone who may have already had chickenpox is considered at risk for shingles. The Mayo Clinic explains, “After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.”

The blisters with shingles can be very painful, and there can be other complications. For some, shingles pain continues after the blisters have healed because of damaged nerve fibers. The impact on nerves can also cause an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), facial paralysis, hearing and/or balance problems. Vision loss can occur when shingles is in or around the eye, resulting in a painful eye infection.

The shingles vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years of age and older, and can be given even if they had shingles in the past.

Pneumonia

Unlike the flu vaccine, this is not administered annually. And it is recommended for all adults over the age of 65 years old.

Pneumonia can be life-threatening, particularly in the very young and older populations, or for those with chronic health issues and compromised immune systems. The infection causes inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs, which causes difficulty breathing.

Questions

Still have questions about what vaccines are recommended for your specific needs? Perhaps you plan to travel out of the country, you volunteer at a care facility, or are wondering if your medical history indicates you should not get a vaccine.

The CDC has put together a helpful quiz that matches your profile to recommended vaccines, the Adolescent and Adult Vaccine Quiz. And be sure to speak with your doctor and care management team to discuss your personal needs.

Have more questions about how Premier Home Health Care, Inc. can play a role in your health or caregiving for a friend or family member? Explore our blog and website or contact us at 1-866-255-8620 to speak with our care team member.