We all know that once summer comes to a close and people are together indoors more, the respiratory viruses start to spread. Colds, flu, COVID and even RSV have similar symptoms of runny nose, tiredness and congestions, and they can all be easily spread from one person to another with a cough or a sneeze. Thankfully, there are vaccines to help protect us from getting critically ill or spreading these diseases.
It’s especially important for adults over the age of 65 to be vigilant about staying up to date with all of the available vaccines. That’s because as we age, our immune systems weaken, making us more susceptible to getting viruses and diseases. Older adults are also at higher risk of -developing complications or long-term symptoms.
Vaccines to Get if You’re Over 65
Influenza. The flu shot is a staple of fall vaccine season. Recommended for everyone to protect against the flu virus, it’s best to get this shot before the end of October to be protected in time for flu season. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reports flu season usually runs from October through May.
COVID. Even if you’ve already been vaccinated against COVID-19, there is a new booster coming out that is recommended for everyone to protect against the new variants. The booster should be available to everyone by the middle of September, making it convenient to get both your COVID vaccine and your flu shot at the same time.
RSV. You probably associated RSV with babies, but this is a respiratory virus that can also affect older adults. It usually consists of a runny nose and congestion but can cause more serious infections. Like the flu, the season for RSV tends to run from October through May. This vaccine is one of the most recent, coming available in the summer of 2023. You can get it along with the flu shot and COVID booster, and it is effective for about two years.
Pneumonia. Another respiratory virus, pneumonia can be deadly in older adults. Each year, more than 150,000 people are hospitalized with pneumonia and 5,000 of those result in death. You can help prevent the serious effects of pneumonia with the pneumococcal vaccine. This consists of two shots, PCV13 and PPSV23, given a year apart. Most adults will only need to get this vaccine one time in their lifetime.
Shingles. Each year, over one million people suffer from shingles, a virus hat causes pain and redness or a rash. The virus that causes shingles is the same one that causes chicken pox in children, so if you’ve had chicken pox you sill have the virus lingering in your body. Shingles isn’t life threatening, but it is painful, and in some cases can cause pain that lasts long after the rash heals. The shingles vaccine is available for adults age 50 and over. Like the pneumonia vaccine it is also two doses, taken two to six months apart. You will only have to take this vaccine regimen once.
Where to Get Vaccines
All of the vaccines listed here are available at pharmacies such as CVS and Walgreens. You can also get them at your doctor’s office or at the health department. Just be sure to call ahead to schedule an appointment, and make sure they take your insurance.
If you have questions about which vaccines you should take and the best time to get them, talk to your health provider. Our care team at Piedmont Home Care can also assist you in learning more about the vaccines available, and getting you to an appointment to receive the shots.