Aging Healthfully Includes Getting Your Vaccinations
Sep 25, 2019
September is a time for turning over a new leaf – perhaps it’s adjusting to a new school routine, planning for upcoming travel or holidays, caring for newborn grandchildren or loved ones who are ill. There’s always something in the air and change afoot in September. Which is why it makes sense that it is also Healthy Aging Month.
When most people talk about Healthy Aging Month, they mention re-examining routines, eating habits and medications. The tips include getting regular exercise like taking brisk walks or practicing yoga. Nutritionists share recipes for following a heart-healthy diet and getting enough Omega-3. There are reminders to get eye exams, to sharpen your brain by playing crossword puzzles and to review your over-the-counter drugs and annual prescriptions with your doctor. Vaccinate Your Family believes all these tips are important to aging gracefully, but we’d like to add one more…Remember to get your vaccines!
September and October are a great time for adults to get their annual flu shot. It’s important to get vaccinated before the flu starts going around in your community. And even though the flu vaccine varies in how effective it is each season, it will still provide you and your family members with important benefits. Flu vaccinations can help prevent serious flu illness, hospitalizations and even death in people of all ages, even healthy people.
Flu vaccine is especially important for people who are at high risk of complications due to flu including pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. In fact, studies have shown that flu vaccination can actually lower the risk of complications from diabetes and heart disease.
And although the CDC doesn’t recommend any one flu vaccine over another, there are two vaccines that were designed specifically for people 65 years of age and older – Fluzone High-Dose and the flu vaccine with adjuvant (FLUAD).
And while you’re checking the flu shot off your list, Healthy Aging Month is also a good time to ask your doctor if you’re also due for other vaccines. For example, every adult should get the Tdap vaccination one time if they did not receive it when they were a preteen or teen. The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (also known as pertussis). After your one-time dose of Tdap, you will also need to get your Td booster shot – which protects against tetanus and diphtheria – every 10 years. Tdap and Td vaccinations are especially important for those of you who will be around newborn babies and for those who will be travelling internationally (two other amazing experiences that will help you age well). In addition, women are recommended to get vaccinated against whooping cough every time they are pregnant. Tdap vaccination during the third trimester of pregnancy not only protects mom, but will also protect her newborn. Learn more by visiting the Pregnancy section of the Vaccinate Your Family website.
In addition to flu and Tdap vaccines, all adults over 65 years old, and adults younger than 65 with certain chronic health conditions, need a pneumococcal vaccine.
And, if you are like many adults, you’ve probably heard stories from friends and family members who have gotten shingles and suffered through the serious pain that accompanies the telltale rash and sometimes lasts long after the rash is gone. According to CDC, 1 out of every 3 people in the U.S. will develop shingles and there are about 1 million cases of the disease each year in the U.S. Shingles is caused by the varicella zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes the chickenpox. You can only get shingles if you had chickenpox. The chickenpox virus stays in your body and goes to sleep in the roots of your nerves. In some people, the virus stays that way, but for many others, the virus “wakes up” many years later and causes shingles. This is why all healthy adults 50 years and older need to be sure talk to their doctor about getting 2 doses of shingles vaccine.
Getting these vaccinations as part of your Healthy Aging checklist will also help with “community immunity”, especially for those of you who are providing care for babies, young children, and/or other loved ones with weakened immune system.
Please find more information about flu, Tdap/Td, pneumonia and shingles vaccinations, and learn why they are so important to adults aging healthfully. You can also find out which vaccines are recommended for you by using CDC’s Adult Vaccine Quiz. And if you’re not sure where to get your vaccines, please use the flu finder or visit CDC’s website.
This guest post was written in May 2020 by VYF Board Member Mary Koslap-Petraco DNP, PPCNP-BC, CPNP, FAANP, an adjunct clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook University School of Nursing and a pediatric nurse...
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