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Immunization for Seniors — Prevent Infection to Preserve Health

National Immunization Awareness Month

For National Immunization Awareness Month this August, we review why vaccination is a crucial part of senior health and how to get inoculated.A person’s health comes from a balance of many factors. Lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise can play a part, and management of chronic disease can also contribute. One vital component of health, especially for vulnerable populations, is preventing new infections. And an effective way to build the body’s immunity is through vaccines.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, developed to ‘highlight the value of immunization across the lifespan.’ Read on to discover the particular benefits of vaccine protection for seniors and people managing chronic illnesses, and take steps to avoid preventable infections.

Populations at Risk

When we think of immunization, our minds may go first to babies and school-aged children. These populations are targeted for vaccination for several reasons, one of which is that their immune systems are not as strong as those of healthy adults. Yet in truth, any person of any age or health status could be infected by a vaccine-preventable disease. What’s more, older adults may have similarly weakened immune systems that put them at a higher infection risk. Even for individuals who were immunized in the past, the protective effects of some vaccines can fade away over time, so staying current is key.

For individuals coping with chronic illnesses, vaccination is important because their existing disease increases the risk of dangerous complications. A patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), for example, already has restricted airways that make it more taxing to breathe; an infection could make breathing problems considerably worse. Alternatively, flu-like symptoms such as vomiting or loss of appetite can disrupt a patient’s diabetes management and make blood sugar levels harder to control.

Getting Vaccinated

For the majority of patients, the benefits of getting vaccines outweigh any perceived risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), vaccines very rarely cause serious side effects; moreover, even if a vaccinated person contracts the disease, his or her illness can be less severe than without vaccination.

Recommended vaccines can vary depending on age, health status, lifestyle, and occupation. For adults, especially seniors and others with compromised immunity, the CDC emphasizes getting a flu shot every year, as early in the season as possible. Other worrisome diseases that vaccines can help prevent in older adults include pneumonia (spread by pneumococcal bacteria), shingles, hepatitis, and whooping cough. Your doctor or clinician can help you best determine what vaccines are right for you. When you’re ready to get immunized, this online tool can help you find a vaccine provider in your area.

Finally, remember that although vaccines are useful for self-protection, they are also important to protect more vulnerable populations. For caregivers, immunization can mean protecting seniors and loved ones from hazardous exposure, and avoiding the complications of preventable infections.

No matter what your health challenge may be, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click the link below to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.