Important Vaccines for Seniors

Important Vaccines for Seniors

Your immune system helps protect your body from foreign and potentially harmful threats. Bacteria, virsuses, toxins, and cancer cells are all examples of harmful substances that infect you. Your Immune system produces cells and antibodies that destroy these harmful substances. But your immune system has to be strong. When you immune system is weakened, you are more likely to get sick.

Aging affects our immune systems. As we age, our immune systems aren’t as strong as they once were. Your immune system responds more slowly to stimulus, which increases your risk of getting sick. To prevent illnesses as we age, vaccines can help drastically.

The Flu

As we all know, the flu is highly contagious, and for older adults it can even be life threatening. Even if you are healthy, get a flu shot.  You are at a higher risk to get the flu, and because your immune system is already weak, it will be harder to fight off the disease. Many seniors are already battling diabetes or heart disease- getting the flu on top of these ailments can be dangerous. You should get the flu shot annually. It is best to get it before flu season as a preventative measure. Flu season is from October-May, with peaks during December-February. You can get the flu shot with your physician, or even at your neighborhood Walgreens. The flu vaccine is covered by your Medicare Part B plan.


The same virus that causes chickenpox is also responsible for shingles. It manifests as a painful skin rash and is contagious. Around one in three adults contracts shingles, likely due to a weakened immune system. The shingles vaccine is a one time vaccination. Physicians recommend adults over 60 get the vaccine, but cosult with your doctor to find out what age is best for you. All Medicare Part D drug plans, or Medicare Advantage with prescription coverage cover the shingles vaccine. Depending on your plan, there can beout of pocket costs.

Pneumococcal Diseases

Pneumococcal diseases causes severe infections throughout the bloodstream, and possibly in key organs. Pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia are all pneumococcal diseases. Pneumonia affects the lungs, meningitis is the infection of the linging of the brain and spinal cord, and bacteremia is an infection of the blood stream. These diseases can get very serious, especially for older adults.  These diseases kill about 18,000 adults over the age of 65 each year. The vaccine comes in two shots, administered about a year apart. You can get them at your doctor’s office, or at a local clinic or pharmacy. This vaccine is a cost-free benefit under Medicare Part B.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a contagious virus that affects the liver. Acute hepatitis b lasts a few weeks and mimicks symptoms of the flu. Chronic hepatitis b is a long-term illness, that often does not present any symptoms, and can often cause liver damage. The liver changes as you age, and your risk for hepatitis b rises. You can get the vaccine in a series of three-four injections over a six month period. Medicare Part B covers  the full cost of the hep B vaccine if  your doctor determines you are at a high risk of contracting hep B.

All of these illnesses are preventible. Don’t wait until you have one to get vaccinated! Talk to your doctor and see what you should vaccinated for at your next appointment.

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