Cold weather is here, which means if you haven’t gotten your flu vaccination you should…and soon. But if you’re over 65, it shouldn’t be the only vaccine on your list.
“As we age, our immune systems get weaker and that puts us at a higher risk of complications if we contract certain diseases like influenza,” says John Peacock III, DO, geriatrician at Main Line HealthCare Geriatrics & Internal Medicine at Shannondell. “It is especially important to make certain your vaccinations are up to date, which helps your body defend itself against these diseases and lead a long, healthy life.”
Below, Dr. Peacock explores the vaccinations that seniors should have in order to live a healthy life.
For: Anyone 6 months +
Protect against: Influenza, the common cold-weather infection that causes fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, and headaches. However, in seniors, these symptoms can be especially debilitating.
Dosage: The flu vaccine should be given annually.
For: Adults 65+
Protects against: Shingles, a painful rash that is caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. If you’ve had chicken pox before, the virus can reactivate years later, causing shingles. If you haven’t had shingles, you can still be at risk.
Dosage: One-time vaccination
For: Anyone 2 months +
Protects against: Tetanus disease, which causes a painful locking of the muscles all over the body. In some cases, tetanus can be fatal.
Dosage: Although you received your first tetanus vaccination at a young age, you should continue receiving ‘booster’ vaccinations to protect your immunity every 10 years, even into old age.
For: Anyone 2 months +
Protects against: Whooping cough, a disease that has been on the rise in adolescents and adults. Coughing fits as a result of whooping cough can be so severe that it can lead to broken ribs and passing out.
Dosage: Like the tetanus vaccination, the pertussis vaccination is originally delivered during adolescence. But, in order to benefit from continued immunity, adults should receive ‘booster’ vaccinations once between the ages of 19–64 and then again after age 65.
For: Anyone 6 weeks +
Protects against: Blood, brain and lung infections like pneumonia and meningitis. Diseases like these are the leading cause of vaccine-preventable illness and death in the United States.
Dosage: There are two different types of the pneumococcal vaccine that work to prevent the spread of disease, called PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23) and PCV13 (Prevnar 13). Although it is recommended that the vaccines are first administered at different times during adolescence, adults age 50 and over are recommended to receive both. Depending on your personal health history, the number of doses for this vaccine varies. Talk to your physician about whether or not you’ll need a booster after an initial vaccination.
If you’re over 65 and haven’t been vaccinated yet, talk to your physician about scheduling your vaccinations.
“Vaccinations are a proven and safe way to prevent disease. They protect you as an individual and also protect your loved ones by decreasing transmission to those with weak immune systems. Not getting vaccinated can have very serious, and potentially fatal, consequences. Please take the time to protect yourself and keep your vaccinations up to date,” says Dr. Peacock.
Dr. Peacock practices in the community, including at Brandywine Senior Living at Upper Providence. To schedule an appointment with a Dr. Peacock or another Main Line Health physician and ensure your vaccinations are up to date, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.