As we age, our immune system weakens, making us more susceptible to certain diseases. Fortunately, vaccines can help protect older adults from these illnesses. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends several vaccines specifically for people over 50 years old. Here are 10 important vaccines for the elderly to consider.
Also known as the flu shot, the influenza vaccine is recommended annually for older adults, as they are at a higher risk of complications from the flu. The vaccine is updated each year to protect against the strains of flu that are expected to be most prevalent.
This vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections. Older adults are at higher risk of developing serious complications from pneumococcal disease, making this vaccine especially important.
The shingles vaccine protects against herpes zoster, which causes painful rashes and blisters. The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for adults over 50, even if they have had shingles before.
The Tdap vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). Older adults should get this vaccine if they haven’t had a Tdap vaccine in the past 10 years.
Hepatitis A and B Vaccines
Older adults who haven’t been vaccinated against hepatitis A and B should consider getting these vaccines. Hepatitis can cause liver damage and other serious health problems. Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection that can cause liver damage, liver cancer, and death. Older adults who have not previously received the hepatitis B vaccine should consider getting it.
Hepatitis A is a virus that can cause liver inflammation and damage. Older adults who are at risk of contracting hepatitis A, such as those traveling to areas with high rates of the disease, should consider getting the vaccine.
The MMR vaccine provides protection against mumps, measles, and rubella. Older adults who have never had these diseases or who have never been vaccinated against them should consider getting the MMR vaccine.
While the HPV vaccine is typically given to children and young adults, older adults who have not been vaccinated may still benefit from the vaccine. The HPV vaccine protects against certain types of cancer, including cervical, anal, and throat cancers.
The meningococcal vaccine protects against meningitis, a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord. Older adults who are at higher risk of meningococcal diseases, such as those with weakened immune systems, should consider getting this vaccine.
The varicella vaccine protects against chickenpox, a highly contagious disease that can cause serious complications in older adults. Older adults who have never had chickenpox or who have never been vaccinated against it should consider getting the varicella vaccine.
The COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for all adults, including the elderly. This vaccine can help protect against severe illness and death from COVID-19, which has been particularly deadly for older adults.
Vaccines are an important part of maintaining good health as we age. Older adults should talk to their healthcare provider about which vaccines are recommended for their age and health status. By staying up-to-date on vaccinations, older adults can protect themselves and their loved ones from serious illnesses.