Taking steps to stay healthy can help seniors live more full and active lives, longer. An important component of protecting your physical health as one ages is getting recommended vaccinations.
The risk for certain diseases and the severity of their symptoms increases with age. All vaccines in the U.S. undergo rigorous clinical testing for safety and effectiveness, followed by FDA approval.
Each senior should talk to their doctor for personalized advice on which vaccinations to get and when, but there are some general vaccine recommendations from the medical community. Most are covered by Medicare. Here is a list of vaccines that older adults should be aware of and speak about with their doctors, families, and caregivers.
Contracting influenza is, at best, a major inconvenience, even in young people. At worst, it can cause serious complications and even death. In fact, the risk of dying from the flu is on the rise for those aged 65 and up. The immune system weakens with age, and the risk is even greater for someone with a chronic condition like heart disease or COPD. The flu vaccine is administered annually, ideally in early fall. You can get it at any age, but seniors get a higher dose than the rest of the population due to their risk factors.
Tdap Vaccine or Td Booster
Tdap is a combination of vaccines that has been around since 2005. It prevents tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). It is only needed once, but if someone has never had it they can still get vaccinated in their senior years. It is recommended especially if you spend any time around infants, who are at high risk for pertussis. Then, a booster of Tdap or Td (tetanus and diphtheria only) is recommended every ten years.
The CDC recommends that everyone 50 and older get the shingles vaccine, Shingrix, that debuted in 2018. Even if you received the previous vaccine, Zostavax, this new vaccine is considered much more effective. If you ever had chicken pox, or if you’ve had shingles previously, the virus can re-emerge as the immune system naturally weakens with age. In seniors, shingles can cause not only intense pain, but complications like neuralgia, neurological problems and even vision loss.
Pneumococcal Vaccine (PPSV23 and PPS13)
You might hear either of these vaccines called the “pneumonia vaccine.” Actually, pneumococcal disease causes severe infections including pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis, all of which can be life-threatening. PPSV23 prevents 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, and the CDC recommends it for all adults 65 years or older. Seniors may also choose to get PPS13, which protects against 13 types, one year after getting PPSV23. Those with certain risk factors may need these vaccines earlier than age 65.
Hepatitis B damages the liver, with or without visible symptoms, and is particularly dangerous in seniors. You may have been vaccinated as an infant, but if you were not or are unsure, it’s recommended after age 65. The vaccine consists of three or four injections over the course of six months.
Please note that this information changes rapidly, so it’s recommended that you follow the news in your state and county to learn the latest.
Medical professionals recommend that all seniors get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are able, since older people tend to experience the most severe symptoms of the virus and are most likely to die if they get it.
Seniors will find themselves in one of the first three vaccine priority groups set out by the CDC:
- 1A: Includes long-term care residents and staff
- 1B: Includes people age 75 and older
- 1C: Includes people age 65-74
Florida (as well as Texas) put all seniors 65 and older in the top priority group, but with more than four million seniors in Florida and tremendous demand, it will take some time for them all to get vaccinated. It remains unknown whether the vaccination will last for life or whether it will be needed annually like the flu vaccine.
COVID-19 Vaccine for Aviva Senior Living Residents
All Aviva Senior Living residents and staff received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in late December 2020, with the second dose following in mid-January. Follow our updates on COVID-19, or contact us for more information
Caring for Senior Health and Wellbeing
At Aviva Senior Living, the health and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority. Our assisted living services and amenities include a range of on-campus medical professionals who are here to help answer questions and guide healthcare choices. Our team can also provide help with making and keeping doctor’s appointments for residents in assisted living or memory care. Every resident and their families are encouraged to make their own informed choices to live their fullest, healthiest lives.