Although people often talk about vaccinations in reference to babies and young children, the truth is that staying up-to-date on immunizations is important at all stages of life. Immunizations are crucial to staying healthy as an older adult, and as this month is National Immunization Awareness Month, it’s a great time to make sure you’re staying on top of your immunization needs.
Why are vaccines important to seniors?
Immunizations can improve your quality of life by protecting your body from disease. For example, a quick flu shot can help you avoid the discomfort and lost time that goes along with catching the flu. For seniors, this is especially important because even a relatively mild illness can lead to chronic complications.
Did you know that there are also vaccinations available only to older adults to protect against diseases most common in seniors? For example, adults 65 and older can receive a shot that protects against pneumonia, meningitis and related infections. Adults over 60 are also eligible for the shingles vaccine, as they are at a greater risk for the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention, “one out of every three people 60 years old or older will get shingles.” In some of these people, shingles leads to long-term, debilitating pain and other complications. The shingles vaccine can reduce the risk of shingles and shingles complications.
Getting your own vaccines protects your loved ones, too. Staying on top of your immunizations not only protects you, but also helps prevent the spread of illness or disease to your friends and family.
How can I stay on top of my immunizations?
National Immunization Awareness Month is a great time to ask your doctor if all of your vaccines are up-to-date. Although you may have been vaccinated against common illnesses as a child, immunity can fade over time and must be renewed. A doctor can also discuss with you whether particular vaccines are appropriate given your individual health needs or complications.
Once you get caught up on what you need, plan ahead so that you will not fall behind in the future. There are tools available to help you keep track of your vaccine schedule. The CDC provides a general schedule for adult vaccines that you should print out and post in your home for an easy reminder.
If you have a smartphone, you can also use any calendar app to set reminders for routine immunizations, and can even download immunization apps to learn more about specific vaccines. The free app Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know provides important information about adult vaccines. It includes information about types of vaccines and the diseases they prevent. The app also has information about special considerations and common side effects to keep you informed throughout the immunization process.
This month, take control of your own health by talking to your doctor about the appropriate immunizations for you. While you’re at it, remind your friends and family of the importance of staying healthy by preventing disease through immunizations as well.