Vaccines have become a very controversial topic, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) thousands of Americans needlessly die each year from vaccine-preventable illnesses like the flu and pneumonia. In addition to small children, those aged 65-and-above are placed at higher risk for contracting these common illnesses.

If you’re currently serving as a caregiver for an aging in place senior, convincing them to stay updated on their vaccines is important to help ensure their continued health and wellbeing.

Why Should Seniors Get Vaccinated?

The average elderly person is more susceptible to the flu or pneumonia because their immune system isn’t as strong as it used to be. Many seniors also suffer from malnutrition and dehydration, which can increase the severity of most common illnesses once they’re sick. Based on CDC figures, during an average year up to 56,000 Americans die from the flu, and an additional 19,000 from pneumococcal pneumonia. Sadly, many of those victims are seniors.

According to WebMD, here are some of the main reasons why seniors should get vaccinated:

They May No Longer be Protected

Some vaccines require a booster shot to remain effective, so if it’s been over 5 years since your loved one’s last pneumonia shot, for example, they probably need another one to refresh their immunity.

It Protects Others

If a senior is around young grandchildren or elderly friends, being vaccinated against an illness that’s contagious to others helps protect their loved ones too.

They Weren’t Fully Vaccinated as a Child

Not everyone gets fully vaccinated while growing up, and many seniors were born and raised when some of the newer vaccines available today weren’t. As a result, it’s never too late to get updated.

They Also Have a Chronic Disease

In addition to the aging process itself, certain medical conditions, like diabetes, asthma, heart disease or lung disease, place older adults at high risk for contracting, and even dying from, a vaccine-preventable illness.

Because of memory loss some seniors also forget which vaccines they’ve had. If you have questions about your loved one, ask their doctor or pharmacist for their vaccination records.

Important Vaccines for Seniors

There are certain vaccines that are more important for elderly persons than others, so when in doubt consult the CDC’s website (www.cdc.gov) or your local health department. According to the CDC, these are the most important vaccines for seniors:

Influenza

Commonly called the “flu”, influenza can be very dangerous for seniors. Annual flu shots are recommended because one’s immunity against the flu tends to be short-lived, along with the fact vaccine manufacturers update their products each year to protect against the most current flu-causing viruses. Based on vaccine availability, flu shots are usually given from September through April.

Pneumonia

Pneumococcal pneumonia causes thousands of hospitalizations and fatalities annually within the elderly population. Patients over 65 who have been previously vaccinated against pneumonia can receive a one-time repeat vaccination if more than 5 years have elapsed since the first shot was administered, and they were under age 65 at the time.

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