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What Seniors in Indiana Should Know About Vaccines

August 19, 2015

What Seniors in Indiana Should Know About Vaccines
August is National Immunization Awareness Month. While you might think vaccines are only for small children, the fact is that seniors in Indiana need them too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as 70,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable illnesses. Being up-to-date with vaccinations is one of the best ways for an older adult to stay safe.

Immunizations for Older Adults in Indiana

The first immunization adult children and caregivers in Indiana should be certain a senior loved one receives is the flu shot. The influenza can be especially dangerous for older adults. Nearly 90% of the flu-related deaths each year are adults over sixty-five. Older adults also account for over half of all flu-related hospitalizations. The flu vaccine is the best way to prevent an older adult from being bitten by the bug or to experience less severe symptoms if they are.

While most people are aware of how serious pneumonia can be for seniors in Indiana, fewer know about the pneumonia vaccine. According to the CDC, pneumonia is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths among seniors each year. It is the leading cause of hospitalization in Americans over the age of 65.

The vaccine is a one-time shot that can protect a senior against 23 different strains of bacterial pneumonia. It is covered by Medicare and by most private health insurance plans.

Another one-time vaccination recommended for seniors is the shingles vaccine. Adults over 60 are at higher risk for shingles, a painful skin rash caused by the chicken pox virus. The Zostavax vaccine lowers the risk of contracting this infection by as much as 50%. If your senior loved one does contract shingles, the vaccination can reduce both the severity and the level of pain of the rash.

An important thing to note is that the shingles vaccine can be given even after an older adult develops shingles. Doing so can help to prevent another outbreak.

Other Vaccines for Seniors in Indiana

Additional vaccinations a caregiver should discuss with a senior loved one’s primary care physician include:

  • Tdap: This vaccine is to protect against tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis. Some older adults in Indiana may not have been given this vaccine when they were younger. It is one-time shot that the CDC began recommending after a recent outbreak of whooping cough.
  • Hepatitis A and B: Depending upon where your senior loved one lives, their physician may recommend being vaccinated against Hepatitis. Older adults who live in congregate housing such as an assisted living community or nursing home may be at higher risk.

Vaccinations should be considered an important part of an older adults overall wellness plan. Check with their physician to make sure they are well-protected. The Vaccine Administration Record is a tool that might help to track your loved one’s vaccinations.

To continue to learn more about health, wellness and other aging related issues in Indiana, we invite you to follow our Caregiver Resources Blog. We update it several times each week with the latest research and findings.