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The Importance of the COVID, Flu, and Other Vaccines for Seniors in Long Term Care

As we get older, doctors frequently recommend more vaccinations (immunizations or “your shots”) to help prevent specific illnesses. 

With the simple act of getting the right shot, you can easily avoid vaccine-preventable diseases. Our immune systems may not be as robust as in our younger years as we achieve an advanced age. 

This fact makes it critical that you and your loved ones over 50 years old discuss which vaccines might be recommended with your doctor.

The Kensington Falls Church senior living has put together some vital information to ensure you protect yourself and any elderly adults under your care.

Let’s look at what vaccines for seniors are recommended, what side effects there might be, what the vaccines are designed for, and why it’s essential to research your options.

COVID-19 vaccines for seniors

Vaccines and senior health were thrust into mainstream consciousness at the beginning of 2020. Since Jan. 20, 2020, when the SARS CoV-2 (Covid-19) was officially detected in America, everybody has been talking about the need for vaccines—and not just Covid-19 vaccines. Senior living communities worldwide had to scramble to protect the older adults under their care. 

At The Kensington Falls Church, we’re very proud of our capable care providers, who went above and beyond the call to keep health conditions at the high standards we had in place even before the pandemic.

We take the coronavirus very seriously. Covid-19 has symptoms such as cough, fever, and shortness of breath and can lead to serious illness and death. But multiple studies show Covid-19 vaccines effectively keep folks from getting seriously ill from Covid-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended vaccines for everyone age five or older and booster shots for those eighteen and older. Wherever you are, we recommend contacting your local health department to find information about Covid-19 vaccinations in your area.

Flu vaccines

A short term for “influenza,” the flu is a virus that may cause fever, sore throat, chills, stuffy nose, headache and muscle pains. The flu can be quite severe if it reaches your lungs and older adults are at higher risk for developing severe complications such as pneumonia.

The flu can be transmitted easily, and it changes over time. These factors mean you can get it again and again, which is why flu vaccines are updated every year—to keep up with the yearly flu season.

It is recommended that everyone over the age of six months should get their annual flu vaccine. 

However, protection from flu vaccines can lessen with time, especially for older adults. Regardless, seniors are less likely to become hospitalized or seriously ill if they get the vaccine. 

It’s imperative if your loved one has any chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease or is already receiving acute care.

Everyone aged six months and above should get an annual flu vaccine. But the protection from a flu vaccine can lessen with time, especially in older adults. Still, you are less likely to become seriously ill or hospitalized due to the flu if you get the vaccine. 

A flu vaccine is vital if you have a chronic health condition like heart disease or diabetes.

The good news is that there are high-dose influenza vaccines specifically designed for older age groups—and Medicare pays for these adult vaccines.

Immunization to help prevent pneumonia

Pneumonia, or pneumococcal disease, is a serious infection that spreads through the air from person to person. It frequently causes respiratory problems and can affect other body parts.

Two pneumococcal vaccines—PPSV23 and PCV13—were created specifically for older adults aged sixty-five and above. 

The CDC.gov recommends all these adults should get the PPSV23 vaccine, whereas only some may need the PCV13 vaccine.

Caregivers and seniors should talk with their health care professionals to find out if either pneumococcal vaccines are advisable.

Other Recommended Vaccines

The above recommendations are the most common vaccines to protect seniors from serious illness. But there are several other vaccines for seniors to consider.

Tetanus

Sometimes called lockjaw, tetanus is caused by dust, soil, and manure bacteria. Cuts in the skin allow tetanus to enter the body, creating serious problems.

Diphtheria

Another bacterial disease, diphtheria, can spread from person to person and affect the sufferer’s throat, nose, tonsils, or skin.

Pertussis

Most folks know this disease by its more common name: whooping cough. This disease is a serious illness that causes violent, uncontrollable coughing fits, making it hard to breathe. It’s bacterial as well and can also spread from person to person.

Vaccines are the most effective ways to prevent these diseases in all these cases. 

The CDC also recommends adults get a Tdap (short for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) or Td booster shot every ten years.

Shingles vaccines

If you ever had chickenpox (herpes zoster), then the virus that causes this disease is still in your body and might become active again and cause shingles. Common symptoms could include a rash with fluid-filled blisters, burning, shooting pain, itching, and tingling.

Even after the rash disappears, you can still be subject to post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), a lingering pain.

The safe shingles vaccine is an excellent way to prevent developing shingles and PHN. Immuneologosits recommend healthy adults age fifty and older get vaccinated for shingles. 

This advice holds even if you already received the chickenpox vaccine, had chickenpox or shingles, or don’t remember having chickenpox.

However, you shouldn’t get the vaccine if you are currently sick, have a fever, shingles, have a weakened immune system, or have had an allergic reaction to Shingrix. As always, check with your doctor.

Side effects

For all of these vaccines, typical side effects are mild. These effects might include swelling, pain, or redness where the vaccine was given.

When communicating with your doctor, make sure you include your health history, including past illnesses and the treatments and your allergies, if any. 

Make sure to also update an immunization schedule to assist yourself, your healthcare provider, and your healthcare professionals.

Safety measures at The Kensington Falls Church

As we get older, everyone will face health challenges from time to time. 

It’s important to keep as many health care tools in your toolkit as possible to keep up the quality of life for you and your loved ones.

From physiotherapy to Parkinson’s therapy to vaccines, dedicated team members at The Kensington Falls Church help protect that quality for our beloved seniors. 

Right from the start of the pandemic, we took Covid-19 seriously

We’re dedicated to safe senior living for all our guests and will be there for them and yourself for many happy years to come.

To discuss everyone’s options, contact The Kensington Falls Church. Reach out to schedule a tour and meet our friendly, loving, and dedicated team. See all that this community has to offer.

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