Vaccines are one of the most important aspects of preventive health care for seniors. If you are a Lehigh Valley caregiver providing care for a senior relative or loved one, work with his or her healthcare provider to ensure they are getting vaccinated as necessary. Since August is National Immunization Month, let’s take a look at some of the most important immunizations for seniors, why these shots are necessary, and possible side effects.
1. Influenza (Flu)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend an annual flu shot for everyone older than age six months, but this vaccine is especially important for seniors as they are more susceptible to serious complications from the flu such as pneumonia. Have your loved one get a flu shot as soon as it becomes available in your area (typically in October). Common side effects include soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site, aching, low-grade fever, and nausea.
2. Shingles (Herpes Zoster)
Everyone older than age 60 should have the herpes zoster shot, which is a one-time vaccine. Caused by the same virus as chicken pox, shingles is a painful condition that causes a blistering rash as well as flu-like symptoms. Not only do seniors represent more than half of annual shingles cases in the United States, they are also at greater risk for more severe symptoms and long-term complications. The common side effects of this vaccine are soreness, redness, or swelling at the injection site.
3. Pneumococcal Disease
The CDC recommends that adults older than age 65 get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease. This bacterial infection, which is more common among seniors, can cause serious ear, lung, blood, and brain infections if untreated. This is a one-time vaccine that has no serious side effects beyond soreness or redness at the injection site.
4. Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
This illness causes severe coughing spells that can be dangerous for seniors, leading to difficulty breathing, vomiting, and disturbed sleep. In addition, pertussis is dangerous for newborns who are too young to get vaccinated, so it’s important to have this shot if you have contact with very young infants. Side effects of the TDAP vaccine include pain at the injection site, low fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, and nausea.
Learn more about senior wellness from the friendly staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care Lehigh Valley families trust. Our caregivers grocery shop, prepare healthy meals, encourage regular exercise, and offer compassionate emotional support to help seniors maintain total wellbeing in the comfort of home. Call a dedicated Care Manager today at 484-350-3874 and schedule a free in-home consultation.