Here at Piedmont Home Care, fall is one of our favorite seasons. After the heat and humidity of the summer, it’s nice to have days where the air is crisp and cool and the golden sun shines through colorful red and golden leaves. However, after fall comes winter, when people are forced to stay inside more due to colder temperatures and dangerous weather conditions. All that time indoors might have a sort of cozy appeal, but it’s also ripe for allowing viruses to spread and take hold, infecting our communities with the flu, one of the many COVID-19 variants, and pneumonia.
One of the best ways to protect you and your friends and family from serious illness is to stay up to date on all of your vaccines. Many times older adults fail to get vaccinated because they think of vaccines as something for young children. You have to have proof of vaccines to go to public school, or to college, or even to some jobs. But for those 65 and older, not being vaccinated usually isn’t a barrier to doing things. However, getting the required vaccines have many benefits.
* Vaccines protect you. As we age, our immune systems weaken. For one thing, the body produces fewer T cells, which are the cells that attack cells that cause illness. Your body also produces fewer white blood cells, which are another defense against infection. All of this means that as you age, you might get sick more often, and take longer to recover from sickness.
* Vaccines protect the community. Being vaccinated not only protects you from getting sick, it also helps prevent you from being a carrier of illnesses. When enough people are vaccinated against a disease it means germs can’t travel from person to person, which means even those people who can’t get vaccinated for various reasons will have better protection against sickness.
The Vaccines You Need
Flu Shot. This is one that the CDC recommends everyone over the age of 6 month old get every year. There is a high-dose flu shot available for those 65 and older that has four times the amount of antigen as the other type of flu vaccine. This provides a higher level of immunity, which is important because 60% of the people hospitalized with seasonal flu are 65 or older.
For the best protection, it is recommended you get your flu shot by the end of October. This allows time for the body to build immunity by the peak flu season, usually December-January.
Shingles Shot. Anyone over age 50 is eligible for the shingles vaccine, and everyone should get it, even if you already had chickenpox, the chickenpox vaccine, or the previous shingles vaccine Zostavax, which is no longer available. The current vaccine, Shingrix, is given in two doses, 2 to 6 months apart.
Pneumonia Vaccine. Officially called the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, this is a series of two shots, one year apart. Everyone over the age of 65 is recommended to get this vaccine, which helps protect against a number of pneumococcal bacteria that can cause serious infections in adults.
COVID Boosters. There’s has been a lot of information available by the public health sector on the benefits of receiving the COVID-19 series of shots. Beginning in early 2021, Pfizer and
Moderna offered a 2-shot vaccine regiment, followed shortly by a booster that helped protect against new variants. Now, in the fall of 2022, there are even more variants of the COVID-19 virus being spread throughout the community, and there is a new vaccine out to help combat them. Known as the bivalent booster, it is now available at your pharmacy or health department for anyone age 12 and up. This is highly recommended for people over the age of 65, who might experience serious complications from a COVID-19 infection.
To learn more about the vaccines available that can help senior citizens live longer, healthier lives, you can call our knowledgeable staff at Piedmont Home Care.