The impact of COVID-19 vaccines has brought attention to the importance of vaccinations in general. AARP reminds seniors that COVID protection is just one of five vaccines important for anyone over 50.
Who needs it: All adults
How often: Once a year. The CDC recommends rolling up your sleeve by the end of October since it takes about two weeks for flu-fighting antibodies to develop in the body.
Why you need it: The flu can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death, and seniors are the most vulnerable. Studies show that a vaccination can reduce the risk of illness by as much as 40-60 percent.
Pneumococcal vaccine (pneumonia)
Who needs it: Healthy adults 65 years and older, or adults 19-64 with certain risk factors (smoking, or health problems, such as chronic lung or heart disease).
How often: The CDC recommends two separate pneumococcal vaccines for healthy adults 65 and older, typically spaced one year apart.
Why you need it: Pneumonia kills more people in the U.S. each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. Young children and those over 65 have the highest incidence of serious illness, and older adults are more likely to die from it.
Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine and/or the Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster
Who needs it: All adults, no matter what their age.
How often: You get Tdap only once, and after that, the Td booster every 10 years.
Why you need it: Due to a rise in whooping cough cases in the U.S., seniors – especially those who have close contact with infants younger than 12 months of age – need to be vaccinated against it. In the first year after getting vaccinated, Tdap prevents the illness in about 7 out of 10 people who received the vaccine.
Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine
Who needs it: The CDC recommends that everyone 50 and older get the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, even if they had the earlier recommended vaccine, Zostavax, which was much less effective, and even if they’ve already had shingles.
How often: Two doses spaced two to six months apart.
Why you need it: One in three people will get shingles, usually after age 50. The risk rises with age. By 85, half of adults will have had at least one outbreak. About 15 percent of sufferers are left with extreme nerve pain – a condition called postherpetic neuralgia (or PHN) – which can last for months or years. ∞