Seniors face a number of obvious health issues. Many of these, like digestive problems, joint pain, hearing and vision loss make themselves known every day, reminding us to see the appropriate medical professional. Other medical needs seem to hide themselves in the back of our minds until it may be too late. Immunization is one of the tasks that can fall through the cracks of medical care.

Health experts recommend that seniors be immunized for several preventable diseases that can cause serious or even fatal illness. Every year in the United States, an estimated 45,000 adults die from diseases that could have been prevented by immunization.  Because seniors are more susceptible to infections than younger adults, immunization is especially important for them. Think about this short list of preventable illnesses.

Influenza. Health officials recommend an annual flu shot for seniors and all patients with conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Each year, the flu vaccine varies, as we try to guess what strains of the virus are most likely to strike. Although you may have received the COVID-19 vaccine, ask your doctor if you should still get the flu shot this year.

Pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumonias of all types are a significant illness in seniors, responsible for 60,000 deaths each year. This kind of pneumonia is preventable by vaccination; seniors and younger adults who are at high risk should be immunized with a one-time shot. If you were given the older vaccine five or more years ago, a “booster” with the newer product is recommended.

Shingles. Health officials recommend shingles vaccine for anyone 60 or older. The vaccine prevents or minimizes a shingles outbreak. Shingles is extremely painful, producing a blistering rash and it can have serious consequences.  The vaccine carries some risks for people with some medical conditions, so discuss any health problems you have with your doctor.

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis. Tdap vaccine is a combination product that immunizes for three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough). These illnesses can all be serious threats to seniors. The Td vaccine is a booster vaccine for tetanus and diphtheria. It does not protect against pertussis. Your doctor will recommend one of these for you based on your medical history.

Immunization is an important part of maintaining senior health, so review your status right with your healthcare professional today.