Senior Immunization: Vaccines for Those Over 65 Years Old

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It’s inevitable for your immune system to weaken as you age. For those 65 and older, your immune system may undergo immunosenescence, a stage where your body is most susceptible to infections. Moreover, due to age, it can happen to anyone – regardless of a healthy lifestyle. 

With this, taking the necessary steps to protect yourself is essential. When you reach 65, vaccines will be necessary to help you deal with infections. If you’re not well prepared, you may be hospitalized or, worse, have a long-term illness. Thus, continue below and learn about the five vaccines you need:

What’s Your Vaccination Status?

Knowing your immunization history or vaccine status is necessary before taking other vaccines. You’d have to contact your health clinic or family doctor for your records. This data will provide a complete history of all the vaccines you’ve received as you grew. 

Moreover, having this data allows you to check if you’re compatible with the vaccine. Although severe allergies from vaccines are rare, they can happen. If you don’t have your immunization history, your doctor may recommend a blood test to determine the antibodies you already have. 

Once you have the results, you’re ready to revisit your doctor, determine if you’re already immune to certain infections, and consult if you need a few shots again.

Are Vaccines Free?

Vaccine Information is also vital to know before the shot. Not only do you need to know about the vaccine description, but its price as well. This will help you pay your bill before you even take the vaccine. If you don’t want out-of-pocket costs, you could try your medical insurance plan if vaccines are included. You could also try your local vaccination centers for free vaccine offers.

What Are the Vaccines You Need?

Although it’s best to get immunized for every disease you’re at risk for, getting the vaccine shot without consulting your doctor is a bad idea. Consultation is even more critical if you have a chronic disease. During the consultation, you can ask your doctor about the five vaccines below:

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a severe infection that can affect your lungs and blood. Moreover, old age only places you at a heavier risk for complications if you contract the infection. In the worst-case scenario, you could develop lung disease, diabetes, heart disease, or kidney disease. There is also a severe risk of death if you develop such chronic diseases.

To combat such, it’s best to get two kinds of shots: the pneumococcal conjugate shot and the pneumococcal polysaccharide shot. These should be taken one year apart. You may need an additional one if your immunization history shows a record of one of these shots. However, your doctor may see you need to retake the shot.

Influenza

Influenza vaccines are most commonly given to children aged 6 months to a year. However, it can be given to those who are 65 and older. Compared to when you were younger, being old may put you at a higher risk of developing a severe flu. As of February 2023, seasonal flu-related deaths are the highest among Americans aged 65 and older, with 50% to 70%.

Once you take the shot, you may experience side effects such as muscle aches, headaches, fever, or nausea. However, these side effects are most likely to occur with high-dosage vaccines.

TDAP or Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis

Tetanus is an infection found in soil or manure and can significantly harm your nervous system. Diphtheria is an infection that weakens your respiratory system, causing difficulty swallowing and breathing. Lastly, pertussis is a severe infection that causes heavy coughing.

It’s best to get the TDAP vaccine to prevent these infections from manifesting. Moreover, the shot is necessary if you haven’t taken one in the last ten years or if you haven’t had one in your entire lifetime. 

Shingles

Shingles is a severe infection due to the chickenpox virus that remains dormant in your body. If it reactivates, it’s called shingles and can cause a painful blister or rash on your body. If left untreated, it can lead to long-term pain.

For this, it’s best to get two doses of the shingles vaccine, with the second administered two to six months after the first one. You may experience side effects such as swelling in the area you got the shot, fever, headaches, or nausea. However, these side effects will only last a few days, a minor inconvenience compared to shingles, which can last a lifetime.

COVID-19

Although the need to get vaccinated for COVID-19 ended since the lockdown is no longer issued, it’s still important to get vaccinated. The risk of severe diseases from COVID-19 increases as you age, which is why getting vaccinated is essential

If you aren’t, it’s best to start at once, as it typically takes at least two weeks for your body to build immunity against the virus. Moreover, two-dose vaccines will have a 95% effectiveness rate in preventing COVID-19, a massive difference from the 66% from one vaccine only.

What Else Should You Consider?

When you visit your doctor before your vaccination, asking for the recommended vaccines explicitly tailored for you is best. This means you’d ask your doctor for the best shots for your age, immunization history, health, occupation, lifestyle, and even travel destinations. 

Final Thoughts

At 65 years old, prevention is always the best way to go. With this, seeing your healthcare provider as soon as possible is best. Doing so will help you get a grasp of your prevention journey and help you take control of your immunity.

Author Profile

The Editorial Team at Lake Oconee Health is made up of skilled health and wellness writers and experts, led by Daniel Casciato who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We aim to provide our readers with valuable insights and guidance to help them lead healthier and happier lives.