VACCINES AREN’T JUST FOR KIDS

When was the last time you or a loved one discussed immunizations with your doctor? If you’re like many Americans, chances are you didn’t even realize immunizations are needed beyond childhood. But research has shown that immunity can fade over time and susceptibility to disease increases with age. In fact, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates that nearly 50,000 American adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases.

How do you know what vaccines you or a loved one needs? A health care professional will need to make this determination, but it helps to arrive at appointments with some research in hand. To get you started, here are three of the most important vaccine-preventable diseases you may want to guard against:

Influenza (flu) – The flu is a virus that can be fatal, particularly to those who are 65 or older. Vaccines for the flu, typically called a flu shot, are often recommended on an annual basis for older adults and caregivers.
Pneumococcal Disease – This bacterial infection can cause illnesses including pnemonia, meningitis and sepsis. Adults over age 65 and caregivers can benefit from a one-time immunization against this disease, though booster shots are often recommended for high-risk individuals.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) – This highly contagious respiratory cough most commonly affects infants and young children, but is passed through adults. Adults aged 65 and older are encouraged to get a one-time Tdap booster, which protects against pertussis, tetanus and diptheria, if they have close contact with infants younger than 12 months.

When considering a vaccination, seek advice from your family doctor or at community health clinics. For a complete list of recommended vaccines for adults, download the CDC’s adult immunization schedule.

CareConversations.org provides resources and advice to help you and your loved ones make informed and confident decisions about the care they may need now and in the future.

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