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Vaccines aren’t just for children

Joan Hatem-Roy, Chief Executive Officer

Question:

I get a flu shot every fall and have had the COVID-19 vaccination. My primary physician recently said she had reviewed my vaccination history and recommended that I get a couple of booster shots. I am in my late 70s and wonder whether this is necessary. Where can I find information about the vaccinations older adults require?

Answer:

Medical experts say the widespread notion that we don’t need vaccines once we are older adults is incorrect. In fact, doctors stress that as people age, their immune systems weaken, putting them at risk for several diseases.

There is a wealth of information available about vaccination for older adults. For example, the Centers for Disease Control’s Vaccines: Know What You Need (https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/index.html) as well as its adult vaccine assessment tool and vaccine information for adults. However, you should always talk to your own health-care provider to determine what is right for you.

Experts say some vaccines have been refined over the years, so it is important to keep track of which shots you have had and when you received them. The vaccine for shingles is one example. Zostavax has been removed from the market and replaced by Shingrix, which I said to provide improved protection. People who received Zostavax should talk to their doctor to determine whether they should obtain the Shingrix vaccine. This is certainly worth exploring as anyone who has suffered with shingles will tell you it’s a most painful ordeal.

Depending upon your history with the tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis vaccination, your physician may recommend getting a Td or Tdap booster every 10 years. Two types of pneumonia vaccines are available. After assessing your current health condition, your physician may recommend a second pneumonia shot.

It’s a good time to review your vaccination records with your doctor, especially as we head into cooler weather and flu season. Make an appointment today.

Are you struggling to care for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff is available to help. Visit us online at www.ESMV.org for more information. You can also call us at 1-800-892-0890 or email info@esmv.org. Joan Hatem-Roy is the Chief Executive Officer of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore.