As I have just turned 60, I was thinking about how I can take care of my health better. I decided to do a bit of research to see which vaccines for adults are best for age 60 plus.
Which Vaccinations are Best for Adults Age 60 Plus?
There are several vaccines for adults, but there are some that are considered urgent. These are the vaccines you need to have once you turn age 60. This ensures that you are protected against viruses and potentially lethal diseases as an older adult. Adults who have never been vaccinated may need more.
For instance, having your flu shot together with your pneumonia vaccine can help prevent serious respiratory problems. Problems usually develop when your immune system is weakened. On the other hand, you only need to have Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccine if you have an increased risk of acquiring the disease.
There are several reasons why your risk of acquiring a specific disease increases:
- You traveled in a country where transmission of such disease is known or common.
- You are in close contact with an individual who is infected with such a disease.
- You are using drugs for recreational use.
In some cases, you may want to be vaccinated as an added protection from the disease. In any case, talk to your doctor about the possibility of having the right vaccines for adults age 60 plus. There are times when you can’t have a particular vaccine due to its adverse effects. Before you get vaccinated, it is essential that you tell your doctor the following:
- Allergic reaction to any food or medication.
- Any medication you are currently taking.
- Blood transfusion or any medical procedures you underwent recently.
- Any diseases you have, such as cancer, HIV or AIDS, blood-related diseases, etc.
I was able to come up with a list of vaccines for adults that are needed for those who are 60 and above, and I want to share them with you in this article.
As we get older we can get more forgetful. Our Doctors do keep records but it’s best to know what vaccines you’ve had. Why not start a health journal and write down the information. Write down which vaccines for adults you have and when you get them.
What Vaccines are Recommended for the Elderly?
Vaccinations are not just for children. As a senior, you also need to be vaccinated not only to prevent you from harmful diseases but also to prevent you from spreading them.
Here are the five essential vaccines for adults aged 60 and above:
Seasonal influenza shots are recommended for everyone but most especially for seniors. Doctors agree that having flu shots every year lowers your risk of having the flu by almost half. You take flu shots not only for yourself but also for the people around you.
The flu virus evolves. That is why you must have the shot every year. What might have worked previously, may no longer work today.
If you are 65 and older, doctors recommend having the Fluzone High-Dose vaccine. It contains four times more antigen compared to the regular flu shots.
What you Should Tell Your Doctor
Before you take the flu shot, make sure to discuss with your doctor any allergic reactions you have. If you are allergic to eggs, you can’t have the vaccine.
Also, those who have or have had the Guillain-Barré syndrome should not have this vaccine as in can have adverse effects.
In case you have a fever during the day of your scheduled shot, let your doctor know. Your doctor may reschedule your vaccine until your temperature is back to normal.
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis)
When you reach the age of 60, it is important to protect yourself from these diseases, which are all potentially life-threatening. It is a great idea to get a Tdap shot once you turn 60. Make sure that you have medical insurance for it first or find out the cost of this vaccine for adults.
The pertussis vaccine is vital as it protects you from whooping cough. If you have grandchildren, or if you are in contact with children, it is a must that you get this vaccine to protect them as well as this disease can be fatal to infants even now with all the advances in medical technology.
Tdap Recommendations for Grandparents
Once you get a Tdap vaccine, you need to have a booster every ten years.
Before you get this vaccine, remember to tell your doctor if you have problems with your nervous system, epilepsy, Guillain-Barré syndrome (if you have it or if you have had it), or if you had swelling or pain after your previous dose of the vaccine.
Pneumococcal Vaccines For Adults – Suggested at Age 65
It does not matter how healthy you think you are, once you reach the senior years, you need to have this vaccine. You must get this vaccine if you have specific risk factors such as:
- Health issues
- Chronic lung disease
- Heart disease
- Addiction to alcohol
- Other conditions that affect the immune system
- Sickle cell disease
- Organ transplant
- Cochlear Implant
- Lack of functioning spleen
There are Two Pneumococcal vaccines for seniors:
- PCV 13 – pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, also known as Prevnar 13. This is the first dose that you will get.
- PPSV 23 – pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, also known as Pneumovax 23. You will get a dose of this vaccine one year after your previous dose of PCV 13.
Is the Pneumonia vaccine safe?
Pneumococcal vaccines are relatively safe and are very effective in preventing pneumonia. However, like any other vaccines and medicines, it may have side effects.
If you experience any of the symptoms below, consult your doctor right away:
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the arm after the shot
- Anaphylactic reaction (very rarely)
Herpes Zoster/ Shingles Vaccine
People aged 60 and above should have this vaccine. Even if you already had shingles or chickenpox in the past, the virus stays in your body.
Once your immune system weakens, which happens when you get older, it comes back as shingles which is a painful skin disease.
Having this vaccine will also protect you from postherpetic neuralgia. This is a complication that causes burning pain after the symptoms of shingles are gone.
Personal Note: One of my friends contracted Shingles before he had the vaccine, and he got one of the worst and most extreme cases of postherpetic neuralgia. He still suffers today, ten years on.
My Mother also got Shingles, and hers was dangerously close to her eye. At the time she was one of the few adults that got the disease to be vaccinated. It was due to the risk to her vision.
Today the Shingles vaccines are more readily available.
2018/2019 – I had my first shingles vaccine about four years ago. Vaccines for adults are often improved, and there is a new Shingles vaccine for adults. It’s called Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine). I have had my first dose. It made my arm ache for a good week. There’s a second dose to this one which must be given within 2-6 months. I shall go in November.
MMR ( Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine
As the name suggests, this vaccine protects you from measles, mumps, and rubella. Rubella is also known as German Measles. If you are born after 1956 and you are not sure if you had your shot already, check with your doctor for your options.
This vaccine was developed in 1957 so those who were born after this time most likely have received the vaccine.
These three diseases are highly contagious as they are all caused by viruses. This means they can spread through the air. These diseases can be passed on to others by coughing, sneezing, or by merely breathing.
Prevent yourself and the people around you from these diseases, get vaccinated for MMR.
Are immunizations free in the U.S.?
Medicare Part B covers the flu vaccine and pneumococcal vaccine. It also includes the Hepatitis B vaccine if you have an increased risk factor of acquiring the disease. In general, Medicare Part D covers more vaccines compared to Medicare Part B. However, depending on your Medicare Part D, you may need to shoulder some of the costs for such vaccines.
To make sure which vaccines are covered, it is best to contact Medicare.
If you still have an insurance plan from your employer or as a self-employed person, most vaccines for adults are covered, but it’s wise to check before incurring any cost.
Where can Adults get Immunizations?
If you don’t have health insurance, you may go to the nearest federally-funded health center in your area. They usually provide vaccines for adults, and you only pay what you can afford depending on your income.
In case your primary health provider does not have the vaccines you need, you may ask for a referral and look for another private doctor. However, you may also find available vaccinations in your workplace, community health clinics, pharmacies, health departments, and other community locations.
Popular places to get vaccines for adults at reasonable prices are:
- CVS Pharmacy
- Publix Pharmacy ( in Southern states)
- Target ( CVS is now the pharmacy inside of Target)
- Jewel Osco Pharmacy
- Safeway Pharmacy
- Most large local grocery stores in your area have a pharmacy
How Many Vaccines for Adults can be Given at Once?
There is no upper limit when it comes to the number of vaccines that can be administered in one visit. Technically, all vaccines can be delivered at the same time.
However, there are exemptions to this rule. If PCV13 and PPSV23 are both indicated for a high-risk patient, they should not be given together in one visit. PCV13 should be provided first, and PPSV23 should be administered at least eight weeks after.
Your doctor is still the best resource for information about vaccines for adults of any age. Always check which recommended immunizations for adults are advised from your doctor, not from friends.
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