Fall is here! Just about everything we eat or drink is pumpkin spiced, the leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colors of red, orange, and yellow, and it’s sweater weather! While great for snuggling or sitting around a firepit, the cooler temperatures increase our risk of getting sick. Cooler weather can weaken our immune system, allowing illness and infection to set in and lower temperatures also make it easier for viruses to travel from person to person. As we age and our immune systems weaken, winter can be even more dangerous.1
Many seniors believe they don’t need vaccines, or are afraid of their side effects, but seniors aged 65 and older are at higher risk of the complications from the diseases themselves.2 It is estimated that as many as 50,000 to 70,000 adults per year die from pneumonia and influenza in the United States. This number could be greatly reduced, and getting immunized is a part of healthy aging.3
Here are some important immunizations that are recommended for seniors, particularly senior women. As always, consult your physician regarding the best plan for you as every person is different and has different needs.
Want to help prevent the sneezing, sniffles, aches, and pain related to the flu? You need a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults get an annual flu vaccine.4 Why? Over 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in seniors aged 65 and older. The manufacturer updates the vaccine each year to make sure it is able to combat the most current virus.2 Data show that more men aged 65 and older receive the flu shot (70%) versus women (68%).5
This vaccine protects against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream.4 Only 64% of elderly women and 63% of elderly men ever had the vaccine.5 Seniors 65 years and older need a series of two different vaccines to protect against pneumococcal disease.2
It is estimated that one million Americans get shingles each year and approximately half of them are aged 60 and above.4 Shingles is a very painful, blistering rash that is contagious. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Getting the shot can decrease your risk of having shingles by about 50% or minimize its severity.2 Only 34% of women aged 65 and older have ever had a shingles vaccine.5
Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis vaccine (Tdap)
Remember getting a tetanus shot as a kid? Well, now the CDC recommends that every adult should get a Tdap shot once if they did not receive it as a child because it protects against tetanus, diphtheria, as well as whooping cough. Then, you should get a tetanus-diphtheria booster shot every 10 years.4 More seniors are contracting whooping cough, possibly due to fading immunity.2 Data show that men aged 65 and older received a tetanus vaccine more often than women (61%) versus (54%).5
Let’s go ladies! Get vaccinated today!
Many senior women are caregivers, so protecting your health is as important to you as it is to those who depend on you.