The coronavirus has generated a great deal of attention about vaccines over the last year and a half. Everything from the way clinical trials operate to how research is funded has been highlighted again and again in the media. Vaccines to prevent COVID-19 came to market quicker than expected, and the rollout is much improved in 2021. While these are important immunizations to discuss with your physician, there are many other health conditions for which a vaccine is available.

From a newer, two-part version of the shingles vaccine to the different types of pneumonia immunization, older adults can protect themselves from a variety of diseases. If you are a senior, this list might be useful for speaking with your primary care physician about which vaccines you need and when.

5 Vaccines Seniors Should Consider

  • The influenza shot: When an older adult develops the flu, it can be more than just an annoyance. Seniors account for half of all flu-related hospitalizations and an estimated 75 percent of all deaths. The vaccine is adjusted every year to protect against the flu strains predicted to be most prevalent for the upcoming season. Many myths surround the annual flu shot, so make sure the older adults in your life talk with their doctor if they have any concerns. Physicians generally suggest senior patients receive the flu shot in early October to have adequate time to build immunity.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine: Pneumonia can be another dangerous medical condition for seniors. According to the AARP, older adults should discuss two different pneumonia vaccines with their doctor. First, a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), and one year later a dose of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Those who are considered to be high risk might be encouraged to get one dose each of PCV13 and PPSV23 eight weeks apart even if they are under the age of 65.
  • Shingrix vaccine: Shingles causes a rash with skin blisters that can sometimes lead to permanent nerve damage. It can be extremely painful and difficult to resolve. The newest version of the shingles immunization is Shingrix. Seniors who opt for this vaccination will receive two doses of Shingrix two to six months apart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this vaccine offers a much higher level of protection than those of the past. So, if you previously received a different type of shingles vaccine, you’ll still want to have both doses of Shingrix.
  • Tdap and Td booster: Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) are all serious health conditions the Tdap vaccine protects against. Physicians generally suggest people have the Tdap vaccine once and then receive the Td booster every ten years. This is especially important for seniors who spend time around children under 12 months of age.
  • Hepatitis A or B: Depending upon your lifestyle and personal risk factors, your physician may also recommend a Hepatitis A or B vaccine. Hepatitis can be a serious health problem causing liver damage. Each of these vaccines is comprised of a series of shots given over a period of months.

Wellness Plan for Seniors

Immunizations are just one part of an overall wellness plan for older adults. Another important piece is to work with a primary care physician on a health screening schedule. This quick overview of the cancer screenings you should consider having and when. Make sure to discuss it with your primary care physician during your next Medicare Wellness Visit.

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