Since the introduction of vaccines for Polio in 1955, Americans have been keenly aware of the ability of vaccines to prevent serious illnesses. Many of us had vaccines for Polio and other diseases as children, but as adults we don’t have to worry about vaccines, right? As an adult 60 or older, what vaccines are vital to prevent illness and promote good health? There are three vital vaccines for adults age 60 and older; Influenza, Pneumonia and Shingles.
Influenza vaccine or the Flu vaccine as it is more commonly known is manufactured annually based on the previous year’s dominate Flu strains and scientist best estimate of the types of Flu that will be prevalent in the coming winter. Flu vaccines are typically available from September to April and are vital to adults with chronic health problems or a weak immune system. Annual Flu shots are normally available in early fall and should be taken by October if possible. It is important to take the Flu vaccine before the Flu starts occurring in your community since it takes about 2 weeks after receiving the shot before our bodies can develop immunity to the Flu.
Pneumonia kills 60,000 individuals annually in the US and it is recommended by the CDC that adults 64 and older who have chronic health conditions discuss the pneumonia vaccine with their health care provider. The pneumonia vaccine is highly effective in preventing pneumonia. If you get your first pneumonia vaccine before age 65, it is recommended that you need a second or booster vaccine at age 65.
Many of us had Chicken Pox as children and it is a common childhood illness. If we did have Chicken Pox as a child, we are at risk of developing Shingles as an older adult. The CDC recommends that adults age 60 and older, who had Chicken Pox as children, take the Herpes Zoster vaccine. The older we are, the more severely we are affected by Shingles and the more severe the symptoms. The Herpes Zoster vaccine is a one-time vaccine which reduces the chance of developing Shingles.