Four Recommended Immunizations for Adults
We often think of vaccinations as something required for children to enter school. However, the need for vaccines does not go away with age. Learn more about the importance of vaccinations for adults and which vaccines are recommended to keep seniors healthy.
Updated on Aug 22 2019
August is National Immunization Month and we are taking a closer look at which vaccines are recommended for adults over 50. We often think of vaccinations as something required for children to enter school. However, the need for vaccines does not go away with age. Learn more about the importance of vaccinations for adults and which vaccines are recommended to keep seniors healthy.
Why Immunizations are Important for Seniors
Staying current on immunizations is crucial to overall senior health and wellness. Not only can the protection afforded by childhood vaccines wear off over time, age and lifestyle can put some seniors at an increased risk for illness and disease prevented by vaccines. The immune system weakens with age and vaccinations can help boost immunity against preventable disease.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states, “All adults need immunizations to help them prevent getting and spreading serious diseases that could result in poor health, missed work, medical bills, and not being able to care for family.”
4 Recommended Immunizations for Adults Over 50
These vaccines are generally recommended for adults. Be sure to check with your medical provider to get the vaccines that are best for you, taking into consideration your medical history and lifestyle.
All adults need a season flu (influenza) vaccine every year. 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 and older. There is a flu shot called Fluzone that is specifically designed for seniors over the age of 65. A high dose vaccine that protects against three strains of the virus, the vaccine lowers the risk of infection and strengthens the immune system.
2. Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
One out of every three Americans will develop shingles in their lifetime. Every person who has had chicken pox (99 percent of the U.S. population over 50) has the varicella-zoster virus in their system, putting them at risk for Shingles. The risk of shingles only increases with age and half of all cases occur in people over 60. There are two shingles vaccines that are licensed and recommended in the U.S., the Zoster vaccine and Shingrix. Shingrix has been shown to be more than 90 percent effective at preventing shingles.
3. Measles, Mumps, Rubella
Should seniors get measles vaccine? Many seniors may be surprised to learn that they need the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). Most children in the U.S. are immunized as children but that vaccine does not guarantee lifetime protection. Generally, adults born before 1957 are immune to measles and mumps but the CDC recommends that adults born in 1957 or later who have not had all three diseases get an MMR vaccine. All three viruses are easily spread through the air and the risk of contracting one of the viruses increases with travel.
Seniors are at a greater risk for pneumonia because as the immune system weakens, the body is unable to fight off infections. The CDC recommends that all adults 65 years old and older should receive the vaccine. There are two vaccines that should be given at least one year apart.
While these four vaccines are generally recommended for adults over 50, it is important to meet with your medical provider to ensure that you are getting the vaccines that are right for you. What vaccines adults need are determined by specific health conditions and risk factors. Some seniors should not get certain vaccines, and some may need additional vaccinations for their particular lifestyle.
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