Important vaccines for senior citizens

Aging is quite a complex process and it affects different people in varying ways. With aging, human body experiences changes, which also impacts on the body organs apart from the appearance.

Some changes in the human body with growing age are obvious while some are subtle. With the growing age, the immune system also weakens, which results in making the body more vulnerable to diseases. Seniors are more prone to catching infections and recovering from the infection may take longer in comparison to younger adults.

Seniors catch flu, shingles and pneumonia easily, apart from several other diseases. The infectious diseases if not treated immediately, can increase complications and can even be fatal. Thus, vaccinations are the best way to keep seniors protected from serious infections. Vaccines are not just for kids, they are equally imperative for senior citizens.

Appropriate vaccines with doctor’s consultation can help the seniors to lead a long, healthy life. Some essential vaccinations for seniors are as follows:.

Influenza vaccine

Influenza is a viral infection, which causes sudden tiredness, fever, headache, muscle aches and cough. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to flu as the virus is highly infectious and spreads from one person to another easily. The influenza vaccine is made from the inactive flu virus. The immune system develops antibodies responding to this inactive virus introduced by the vaccine. It is recommended that seniors take the flu vaccination once a year. Seniors above 65 years must opt for the flu vaccine designed for their age group in particular.

Pneumococcal vaccine

Bacterium Streptococcus or Pneumococcus bacteria causes the pneumococcal disease, which includes pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia. It can also cause ear infections and sinusitis. It can be life-threatening if the adults infected with the bacteria do not get immediate medical attention. Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine works effectively against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Seniors over 50 years, with a smoking habit or other health problem like asthma, diabetes, chronic kidney, lung, liver or heart disease or even those who wear cochlear implants are at greater risk of getting affected. Seniors with other health complications may require a booster of this vaccine every five years.

Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine

Shingles or herpes zoster is a painful rash that can lead to painful complications and linger for several months. If a person has had chicken pox, the risks of herpes zoster are higher as the same varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes the infection. Though the person recovers from chicken pox, the virus remains dormant within the body and as the immune system becomes less effective, the virus reactivates and causes shingles.

The herpes zoster vaccine protects from the virus and reduces the risks of developing shingles and other related complications. Herpes zoster can also lead to post-herpetic neuralgia, which is an advanced stage of the complication. The vaccine reduces the risk of developing the complication by 50 per cent.

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine

Bacterium Clostridium tetani cause Tetanus. The disease-causing bacteria can be life-threatening as it secretes a neurotoxin, which causes intense and painful muscular spasms. Diphtheria is another infectious and serious disease that affects humans. Bacterium Bordetella pertussis causes whooping cough, which develops a persistent choking cough. Whooping cough is very contagious and can be life-threatening for children as well as adults. If any senior citizen has never received this vaccination, then they must get the shot immediately. It is also advisable to take a booster every ten years.

MMR vaccine

Every person receives vaccination for measles, mumps, and rubella soon after birth. MMR vaccine is recommended for every child as it protects from these three potentially fatal diseases. If a person has not been given the vaccine soon after birth, then they need to do so immediately. The MMR vaccine is given in a two-shot series. If you are not sure about the vaccine status of a senior, then get her/him vaccinated immediately, irrespective of their age.

Doctors also advise the seniors with certain health ailments to get hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccination to prevent liver inflammation in the growing age. With the right care, attention, medical attention and proper vaccination, senior citizens can certainly lead a productive and healthy life, free of illness and vulnerability to diseases that accompanies old age.

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