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July 07, 2015

Immunizations: An Ounce of Prevention

Immunizations: An Ounce of Prevention

We’re all familiar with the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s where vaccinations come in. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several diseases have been virtually wiped out in the United States thanks to immunizations – polio, small pox and diphtheria are among the most notable. Many others have had over 90 percent decrease in reported cases. These include Hepatitis A, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, and tetanus.

And yet, an estimated 45,000 adults die each year from diseases that vaccines can prevent.  Many seniors may feel they no longer need vaccinations or they may worry about side effects. But the truth is that people age 65 and older are at greater risk for getting many of the diseases that immunizations help prevent because the older we get, the weaker our immune systems become. The CDC recommends that people over the age of 65 get vaccinated to help protect against the following conditions:

Seasonal Flu

It's estimated that 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths in the United States occur in people 65 years and older. The best way to prevent the flu is with a flu vaccine. You should do this every year, as the benefits of the vaccine are short-lived and it is usually updated to make sure it’s effective against the current strains of the virus. New vaccines typically are available in September. Talk to your doctor if you are allergic to eggs or latex or if you’ve had a bad reaction to a flu shot in the past. If you have a fever, talk to your doctor as s/he may want you to wait until the fever subsides.


Pneumonia causes 60,000 deaths each year, and many pneumonia fatalities are among seniors. Therefore, the CDC recommends anyone over the age of 65 get immunized. The good news is that it’s a one-time vaccination.


Shingles is an extremely painful, burning rash and it is recommended for people age 60 and older to get the vaccine. While the vaccine may not completely prevent shingles, according to some studies, it decreases your risk by up to 50 percent and may also minimize the severity of the symptoms should you get the disease. Talk to your doctor to see if it’s appropriate for you.


You should continue to get a tetanus/diphtheria (Td) vaccine every ten years. Ask your doctor if he or she recommends getting vaccinated for pertussis (whooping cough) as well. The pertussis vaccination may be recommended if you will come into contact with infants who are too young to be vaccinated against the disease. The good news, either way it comes in a single shot (Td or Tdap).

As with any medical procedure, always check with your physician before getting a vaccination. In addition to getting vaccinations on a regular basis, you should talk to your doctor about other ways to prevent disease, including eating well, an exercise program and other ways to boost the immune system.

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2015, IlluminAge.   


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