Senior vaccinations are essential. As we age, our bodies’ immune systems become weaker, making us more at risk for health complications due to influenza (flu) and pneumonia. In the United States, an estimated 70 to 85 percent of influenza-related deaths occur among people 65 years and older, and each year more than 18,000 older adults succumb to pneumococcal pneumonia.
What is Influenza?
Influenza is a viral respiratory infection that spreads easily from person to person by coughing, sneezing and touching. It may cause a high fever, along with body aches and weakness.
What is Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can be caused by a virus, bacteria or, less commonly, fungi. In the U.S., the most common bacterial cause is Streptococcus pneumoniae (also called pneumococcus).
How can you protect yourself from the flu or pneumonia?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people 6 months and older receive the flu vaccine every year. Senior vaccinations can prevent illness and complications that result in hospitalizations.
For adults 65 years and older, the CDC recommends two pneumococcal vaccines: Prevnar 13 and Pneumovax 23. The timing of these two vaccinations may depend on your health conditions, so talk with your doctor to learn what is best for you.
Some Common Flu Myths
Myth: I don’t need a flu shot every year.
Fact: Flu viruses change each year, and vaccines cover the top three to four viruses most likely to cause illness in the coming season. Antibodies from the influenza vaccine do not last more than one flu season.
Myth: The influenza vaccine gave me the flu.
Fact: The vaccine is designed to cover the top three to four viruses, but a person may get a different virus that was not included in the vaccine. However, flu symptoms may still be milder if you had a flu shot, due to cross-protection.
Myth: It is better to wait and get the influenza vaccination later in the flu season.
Fact: Vaccine protection from influenza lasts the entire flu season. It’s best to get the flu shot as soon as it is available. The CDC recommends vaccination prior to November, but vaccination any time in the flu season (August–May) is beneficial. Flu cases tend to peak between November and March.
Don’t become a statistic!
Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting your flu and pneumonia vaccines caught up today. Talk to your doctor, and take control of your health.
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