Many people tend to think of vaccines as something children get at their regular check-ups. But the truth is, patients of all ages need to keep up on their vaccines to make sure they’re protected against infections that can cause significant complications. Since our immune systems weaken as we get older, it’s especially important for adults over age 50 to stay current on their immunizations.
Here are four key vaccines that adults ages 50-65 should have to stay as healthy as possible.
1. Flu Shot.
There are more than 100 strains of influenza. Each year, the flu vaccine covers only four of the possible 100 strains. So it’s important to get a flu shot every fall to decrease your risk of contracting the most common strains of influenza expected to hit the U.S. during our cold and flu season that year.
Sixty percent of flu-related hospitalizations are in patients ages 65 and older, so it’s especially important for seniors to receive the new flu shot each year.
2. Tetanus Vaccine.
Every adult should receive a Tdap vaccine at least once in their lifetime. Tdap covers tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (the bacteria that causes whooping cough). After receiving a Tdap, it’s recommended that adults receive a tetanus booster (Td) every 10 years. If you have a large wound, it’s recommended that you update your Td if your last booster was more than five years ago.
3. Zoster Vaccine.
Zoster is a virus in the herpes family that causes shingles, a painful skin rash that can lead to long-term nerve pain, and other complications. There are two vaccines that protect patients against zoster: RZV (Recombinant Zoster Vaccine, which goes by the brand name Shingrix) and ZVL (Live-Attenuated Herpes Zoster Vaccine, which goes by the brand name Zostavax).
It’s recommended that patients get two doses of RZV when they turn 50 years old, or one dose of ZVL after age 60.
4. Pneumococcal Vaccine.
Pneumococcus is the bacteria responsible for many cases of bacterial meningitis and bacteremia (a blood infection). It also causes the most pneumonia-related hospitalizations in the U.S. each year.
The good news is that there are two vaccines that help prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae infections. It’s recommended that adults over age 65 receive the PCV13 (Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, which goes by the brand name Prevnar 13) first, followed by the PPSV23 (Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine, which goes by the brand name Pneumovax 23) one year later.
Adults who have a weakened immune system or other chronic health conditions may need to be vaccinated against pneumococcus earlier than age 65, so check with your doctor to see what recommendation is best for you.
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We also recommend reading facts about Hepatitis B which also has an effective vaccine. At GoHealth Urgent Care, our team works seven days a week to help you stay as healthy as possible!
Written by Sarah Thebarge, Physician Assistant