Blog by Tim Alderdice, Director of Business Development, GrandView Pharmacy

With flu season right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to examine more closely guidelines for vaccinations for seniors.

The CDC provides specific recommendations for seniors:

The flu:  The flu is more virulent in persons 65 years and older, making the vaccine more necessary. There are three different types of flu vaccination available to the public, but the only one recommended for seniors is a specially-designed, high-dose shot. The higher dosage is said to offer the elderly more protection than the traditional flu shot. Additionally, it does not expose an older adult to the live virus, like the nasal spray vaccine would.

Pneumonia:  Seniors are more likely to contract pneumonia, especially if they are frequent visitors of the hospital. People 65 and older should get the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV), which provides a protective effect against the 23 most common strains of pneumonia-causing bacteria

Shingles:  Shingles is more common and severs among the elderly and people with compromised immune systems, so anyone over the age of 60 years should be vaccinated. Shingles generally manifests as a blistering skin rash, but it can also cause additional problems, such as: fever, hearing loss, and vision problems. A senior should be vaccinated even if they have already had an outbreak of shingles.

Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis:  The vaccinations for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are often given as a single shot. It is recommended that everyone, regardless of their age, get a tetanus/diphtheria booster shot at least every ten years, or after possible exposure to the virus. Tetanus typically enters a person’s bloodstream through an open wound and can be deadly. Therefore, it is recommended that even previously vaccinated individuals get a tetanus booster after a severe cut, puncture wound or burn.

Chickenpox:  If an older adult hasn’t had chickenpox, or the chickenpox vaccine, it’s recommended that they undergo a preventive, 2-dose shot regimen. However, seniors with immune system deficiencies, cancer, or who are on prescription medications that inhibit the immune system, should not get the vaccine until they talk to their doctor.

Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR):  Recommendations regarding older adults receiving the MMR vaccine vary, though the issue is becoming a greater concern, given the increasing numbers of unvaccinated American children who are now contracting measles. According to the CDC, people born before 1957 were exposed to measles epidemics and have likely developed an immunity to the disease so they do not need to undergo vaccination when they’re older. However, individuals who received an inactivated measles vaccine in the 1960s or were never vaccinated when they were a child are recommended to get another round of shots, as is anyone born after 1957 who has no record of ever receiving the MMR vaccine.

Although the CDC guidelines publishes general guidelines, all Grandview Pharmacists are certified geriatric pharmacists and are always available to answer any detailed questions regarding vaccinating your residents.


About the Author

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