Posted: 8/8/2022 9:00 AM by
You may think that since you graduated from seeing a pediatrician, your days of getting vaccines are over. Not so fast! You actually still need certain vaccines to keep you healthy as you age.
The vaccines you got as a child were instrumental in preventing severe diseases from entering your body. Although effective, those vaccines your pediatrician gave you weren’t made to last forever.
Unfortunately, the same goes for your immune system.
As we get older, our immune system begins to function less efficiently, and the immunity we received from childhood vaccines fades. This, along with an aging immune system, significantly increases your susceptibility to diseases. As you age, the infections and diseases that you most likely used to bounce back from will become harder for you to fight off– they can even be deadly.
This is especially true for adults who have chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or COPD.
So what vaccines do you need to stay healthy as you age? Here are the five vaccines that are recommended for older adults, beginning at age 50.
1. Shingles Vaccine
If you are over a certain age before the varicella vaccine was available, you most likely had chickenpox as a child. It was probably an uncomfortable and itchy experience. The same virus that causes chickenpox also causes shingles in adults, which can be incredibly painful.
Even if you already had chickenpox, had the varicella vaccine, or even if you don’t know what you had – it’s still important to get the two-dose shingles vaccine, starting at age 50.
2. Flu Vaccine
A young person can usually fight a bout with the flu virus by getting rest and drinking plenty of fluids. However, an older person may have a more difficult time overcoming the flu. Getting the influenza vaccine each year can help you prevent getting the flu or allow you to recover from it faster. Be sure to get your flu vaccine before the end of October to give yourself plenty of time to build up immunity before flu season starts.
3. Pneumococcal Vaccine
Certain diseases can cause pneumonia, one of them being pneumococcal. It’s a very serious infection that can affect the lungs. The CDC recommends that all adults 65 and older get a pneumococcal vaccination. This vaccine will help protect you from getting a serious infection, including pneumonia.
4. COVID-19 Vaccine
By now, you’ve probably heard more about the COVID-19 vaccine than any other vaccine. Hopefully, you’ve already had at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, and maybe even one or more boosters. Older adults should continue to monitor the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine recommendations to prevent severe disease.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap)
The tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccine prevents whooping cough, which is a severe respiratory disease that can spread from person to person. You most likely had what is called a “Tdap” vaccine when you were younger, but it’s important to get boosters as you age.
The Bottom Line: Vaccines Protect You and Others
Vaccines are safe and effective. When you follow vaccine recommendations, not only are you taking the necessary steps to protect yourself from dangerous illnesses, you’re also doing your part to prevent the spread of diseases that can be harmful to others. Think about it–just one or two simple shots may have the ability to prolong your life.
We highly recommend discussing these vaccines with your doctor at your next visit to determine the best vaccination schedule for you.