Seniors encouraged to get up-to-date on their shots, vaccinations

Published Jul 30, 2017 at 9:00am

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to make sure that you and your family members are up-to-date on important vaccines. Even healthy adults can become sick and pass illnesses on to others.

Being up-to-date with shots is especially important for older adults and those with chronic health conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, and heart disease. All shot records for children under age 18 must be put into the state Immunization Information System (NYSIIS). Adults can also request that shot records be entered into NYSIIS. The system helps to make sure that you get vaccines on time and to prevent over vaccination.  

Tetanus/Whooping Cough (Td or Tdap):

Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent. This helps to protect against pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus. Check with your doctor to see if you are up to date on this shot. This is especially important if you have young grandchildren. They are more prone to getting whooping cough. A person should then get a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax):

Did you know that one out of every three people will get shingles in their lifetime? If you have had Chicken Pox, you are at risk for developing shingles. Shingles is a painful rash that develops on one side of the face or body, often leading to weeks of severe pain and eye complications,

Shingles is most common in people over age 60. Shingles Vaccine (Zostavax) can reduce your risk of developing shingles by half. The vaccine is recommended for people age 60-years and older. The vaccine is also approved for those 50-years and older with certain medical conditions. Talk with your doctor about whether you should be vaccinated against shingles. Since you can get shingles more than once, it is recommended to get the vaccine, even if you have previously had shingles to prevent future outbreaks. 

Pneumonia (Prevnar 13; Pneumovax 23):

Pneumonia is another potentially serious illness. Serious pneumonia infections can often be prevented by getting vaccinated. There are two different pneumonia vaccines: Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. Adults age 65 and older should receive both of these. The number after the name indicates that the vaccine helps to protect against 13 (Prevnar 13), and 23 (Pnemovax 23) — different forms of pneumonia. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends:

• If you have never received a Pneumonia vaccine it is recommended that you receive Prevnar 13 at age 65 then wait 6-12 months. After the wait, receive Pneumovax 23. If you have already received Pneumovax 23 shot at age 65, wait one year and then receive Prevnar 13.

If you received a Pneumovax 23 before turning 65 (this is recommended for people with a chronic illness or those who smoke cigarettes), you can receive Prevnar13 when you turn 65, wait at least six months to one year, and then receive Pneumovax 23 for better protection.

Flu Vaccine:

Believe it or not, we are getting closer to the 2017-18 flu season. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a seasonal flu vaccine. This not only helps to protect you, but others who cannot get vaccinated as well, such as young children under 6 months of age. There are several forms of the flu vaccine:

Inactivated flu shot: This contains a safe level of inactivated (dead) virus. This is available for anyone 6 months of age and older; 

High dose flu shot: Similar to the traditional flu shot, but it contains 4 times more antigens than the regular flu vaccine. This is specifically for people 65 years and older;

FluBlok: This flu shot is available in some doctor’s offices for people who have a severe allergy to eggs. It is always best to talk with your doctor if you are unsure whether you should receive a certain vaccine or not.

Your doctor can let you know which vaccines you have already received and which ones you may need.