August is National Immunization Awareness Month

By Crystal Welch, HHQI RN Project Coordinator

116482902You eat a healthy diet, you exercise, but is something missing?  Do you realize that adults need at least four immunizations after the age of 65?  These immunizations are for common illnesses that everyone is at risk of developing and each may be prevented or made less severe with a simple vaccine.

FLU – Each year, there are more than 225,000 hospitalizations and up to 49,000 deaths related to the flu.  All adults should get the “flu shot” to help prevent seasonal influenza.  A new combination of inactivated (killed) influenza viruses is mixed each year based on what the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts will be common.  You cannot get the flu from the flu shot.  It is possible to get infected with a different flu strain that wasn’t included in the predicted vaccine formula.  Even so, you most likely won’t get as sick if you had a flu shot.

PNEUMONIA – Adults aged 65 years or older should get a single dose of pneumonia vaccine.  Pneumonia is estimated to cause 4 million illnesses and 22,000 deaths annually in the United States, mainly in people over 50.

TETANUS BOOSTER – Adults of all ages need to have a Td booster every 10 years to keep up their immunity to tetanus and diphtheria.  It can also be given earlier after a severe and dirty wound or burn. Another vaccine, called Tdap, which protects against pertussis in addition to tetanus and diphtheria, is sometimes recommended instead of Td vaccine.

SHINGLES – A single dose of the shingles vaccine is recommended for adults age 60 years or older to reduce the risk of shingles.  Shingles is a painful skin rash, often with blisters, caused from a reactivation of the chickenpox virus that has remained dormant in the nerve cells. It is also called Herpes Zoster, or just Zoster.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated one million people suffer an episode of shingles every year.  Approximately half of these cases are in men and women over the age of 60.

Some people are sensitive to the ingredients in certain vaccines. For your safety, your doctor’s office or pharmacy will ask you questions about your sensitivities before they give you any vaccine.

Vaccines are an important step in protecting against serious and sometimes deadly diseases. Even healthy adults can become seriously ill and can pass certain illnesses on to others. Immunizations are especially important for older adults and for adults with chronic conditions such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes, or heart disease.

Vaccines save lives and reduce hospitalizations. Get vaccinated today!


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