Getting the Shingles Vaccine and Other Immunizations

Vaccines aren’t just for children. The shingles vaccine is among the immunizations older adults should strongly consider. Here are four vaccines that health authorities recommend.

Shingles Vaccine

If you had chicken pox as a child, the varicella zoster virus remains dormant in nerve cells  of your body. For reasons not clearly understood, they can reactivate later in life causing a nasty, painful condition commonly known as shingles. Adults over the age of 60 are recommended to get the zoster vaccine to reduce the chance of this happening by approximately 50%, or, if it still happens, to reduce the severity of it.

Annual Influenza Vaccination

You may wonder why some vaccines are “one and done”, but the flu vaccine needs updating annually. Or perhaps you’ve heard that even if you get the vaccine, you still have a 50% chance of getting the flu. The reason for this is that the flu virus mutates constantly. Health officials each year study medical reports received from around the world to determine what strain of the virus is the most likely to infect the public, and vaccines are developed for that strain. But, like forecasting the weather, they can be off as the strain continues to mutate. Doctors recommend the flu vaccine especially for older adults, children and people with chronic health conditions for which the flu would be an aggravating factor.

Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus

You probably received these as a child. After age 19, adults should get a pertussis (whooping cough) booster. Later in life, if you anticipate being in close contact with infants under one year of age, as in the case of grandchildren, a booster is advised to protect the child prior to them receiving their own immunizations. Diphtheria and tetanus should be renewed every ten years.

Pneumococcal Vaccine 

This vaccine guards against a bacterium that can cause pneumonia, bacterial meningitis and sepsis. Recommended for adults over age 65 or under that age if affected by a chronic health condition.

As with all medical decisions, consult your doctor beforehand.

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