Vaccines: Not just for kids

A patient receiving a vaccination

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Vaccines are a crucial part of preventive care. As we age and retire, they become even more important.

Age makes people more vulnerable to communicable diseases and preventable illnesses. And you can’t assume the standard vaccinations you received as a child will be enough. Immunity you gained from childhood vaccines, if you had them at all, fades over time.

That’s why adults need periodic booster shots to keep up their defenses. The most important time for this is at the 60-year-old milestone.

Regular vaccinations can prevent the following illnesses:

  • Tetanus, a disease characterized by a paralyzing muscle condition also known as “lock jaw”, is easily prevented with a booster shot every 10 years.
  • Influenza, or flu, can be particularly harmful to seniors living in retirement or nursing homes, but all adults can maintain their immunity with yearly vaccinations.
  • Pneumonia is a common complication of influenza and can lead to hospitalization. Pneumonia vaccinations are available upon request and can be administered at the same time as the influenza vaccine each year. The shot is strongly recommended for anyone 65 years or older and for younger people with certain chronic conditions including diabetes, chronic liver disease, and asthma.
  • Shingles is an infection that typically causes severe nerve pain and can cause lasting damage. The risk for shingles increases as people age. Shingles vaccines are recommended for people with a normal immune system who hare 60 years of age or older.
  • Pertussis, or whooping cough, is thought to be transmitted by adults whose immunity from vaccinations has worn off, and it tends to infect vulnerable infants. The pertussis vaccine, or Tdap, also protects against diphtheria and tetanus.

Adults tend to ignore their own health, focusing instead on the health of their children. But keeping yourself well benefits you and your family, too. Updating your immunizations will help you avoid an illness that could have been prevented with just a quick needle poke.

Check with your doctor to find out what vaccines are appropriate for you. Need help finding a doctor? Visit us online at nwhospital.org or call 206-520-5000.

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