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What are the best vaccines for older adults?

2nd November 2018

As you get older your immune system weakens and it can be easier to pick up colds and flu, shingles and pneumonia. This can lead to complications and develop into long-term illnesses, meaning hospitalisation or in the most extreme cases, death.

Therefore, vaccines are recommended for older adults and for those suffering from conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Getting vaccinated helps keep you, your family and friends healthy.

Despite the clear benefits of the different vaccines, a 2017 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that around 30 per cent of people aged 65 and older skipped their flu jab last year and two-thirds didn’t get the recommended shingles vaccine. This can be put down to a number of potential reasons, with many older people who have mobility problems and rely on mobility aids like stair lifts being unable to travel to get the vaccines and others not realising the importance of these jabs.

Which vaccines are recommended for 65s and older?

Check out the below infographic to find out the four key vaccines older adults need and what the different symptoms are for the conditions the jabs are protecting you from.

Vaccines recommended for older people

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How do the vaccines work?

While the vaccines do not provide complete protection, they will help boost your immune system and here is an insight into how each vaccine works.

Flu vaccine

The flu vaccine works by stimulating your body's immune system to make antibodies to attack the flu virus. After the injection and if you’re exposed to it, your body will recognise the virus and will produce antibodies to fight it.

It will generally take between 10 and 14 days for your immunity to flu to fully build up after the vaccine and you will still need to be vaccinated every year as the antibodies decline over time.

For 2018, the adjuvanted trivalent injected vaccine is being recommended for over 65s as studies have found it to be more effective in this age group.

Pneumococcal vaccine

This vaccine encourages your body to produce antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria. The antibodies, which are proteins produced by the body to neutralise or destroy disease-carrying organisms and toxins, help protect you from becoming ill if you’re infected with the bacteria.

There are over 90 different strains of the pneumococcal bacterium, but eight out of 10 cause the serious infections.

The PPV and the PCV are inactivated vaccines, meaning they can’t cause the disease which they are protecting you against.

Shingles vaccine

This shingles vaccine is given as a single injection in the upper arm and unlike the flu injection, older adults will only need this vaccination once.

This vaccine contains a weakened chickenpox virus, which is similar to the chickenpox vaccine, and this will help you fight the shingles virus should you come into contact with it.

Shingles isn’t caught and instead occurs when the chickenpox virus that is already in your body reawakens. This often occurs in older age with people 70 and over at a higher risk of suffering from the virus.

Tdap vaccine

Protecting against three potentially life-threatening bacterial diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).

These diseases were once commonplace, causing many deaths, and in the US, for example, there has been a rise in cases as a result of children not getting vaccinated.

The Tdap injection is the best prevention against the three diseases and is made using dead bacteria, which do not make you sick.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.