Category Archive: Pneumonia

Recommended Vaccines for Seniors

Senior getting Flu ShotAdults are less able fight off infections as they age.  Chronic diseases can weaken the immune system.  It is important for seniors to receive certain vaccines to help them live healthier lives.  Here are several vaccinations recommended for seniors by the Centers for Disease Control.

Flu vaccine (influenza)-  Flu is a contagious respiratory illness that affects many people each winter.  Seniors are at higher risk for developing serious complications.  It’s especially important to be protected against flu if you suffer from a chronic medical condition such as COPD, diabetes, or heart disease.  An annual vaccine is necessary as the virus changes each year.  It takes about two weeks for the body to build up full immunity, so get vaccinated early in the season.  A higher dose version is available for seniors.  Medicare Part B covers the cost of the vaccine.

Pneumonia vaccine –  Pneumonia is a serious lung infection that can cause significant complications for seniors, people with chronic diseases, and smokers.  The vaccine is recommended for all adults age 65 and older.  There are two types of pneumonia vaccines that protect against different types of pneumonia.  The PCV13 vaccine is given first.  A year or more later the PPSV23 vaccine can be given to protect against additional types of pneumonia.  With these two shots, a senior will most likely be protected for the rest of their life.  The vaccines are covered by Medicare Part B.Hispanic senior speaking with doctor

Shingles vaccine-  Shingles is a painful blistering rash caused by the dormant chicken pox virus that suddenly becomes active.  One in three adults gets shingles during their life.  Since older adults are more likely to have serious complications, the vaccine is recommended at age 60.  The older single dose version is about 51% effective for approximately five years.  The newer 2-dose vaccine is about 90% effective but has a few more side effects.  The newer vaccine is not as readily available at this time.  A person can still receive the newer vaccine even if they have already had the single dose version.  The vaccine is partially covered by Medicare Part D drug plans.

Tdap vaccine-  Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough).  Tetanus bacteria enters the body through cuts and wounds.  Diphtheria and pertussis are contagious diseases spread through coughing and sneezing.  Adults who have never had a Tdap vaccination should receive one, especially if they are grandparents who have contact with infants too young to be vaccinated.  The Tdap vaccine is partially covered under Medicare Part D.

Speak with your health care professional at RMD Primary Care to find which of these vaccines is right for you.

Who Should Receive the Pneumonia Vaccine?

WPneumoniahat is pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the air sacs in the lungs.  One or both lungs may be affected.  Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria or viruses but can sometimes be caused by fungi.  It is a serious infection for infants, the elderly, those with chronic health issues, and people with compromised immune systems.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of pneumonia include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain when coughing or breathing.  The infection may cause confusion in elderly patients as well as a body temperature that is lower than normal.  Pneumonia can follow a cold or the flu.  Bacterial and viral pneumonia can be spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing.

Who Should Get a Pneumonia Shot?

It is not necessary for healthy adults under the age of 65 to get pneumonia vaccines.  It is recommended that adults age 65 and older receive the vaccines because it is harder to fight infections as we age.  People with weakened immune systems should also be vaccinated.  This includes those with chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, lung diseases, and asthma.  Cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments should be vaccinated.  Smokers should also receive the vaccine.Pneumonia shot

There are two types of pneumonia vaccines that protect against different types of pneumonia.  The PCV13 shot , which protects against the most serious types of pneumonia, is given first.  A year or more later, the PPSV23 shot is given to protect against additional types of pneumonia.  There are no serious side effects from either shot, and people cannot get pneumonia from the shot itself.  The vaccines are 50-70% effective, and they protect for years.  People receiving the shots at age 65 and older will most likely be protected for the rest of their lives.

Speak with your doctor to see if the pneumonia vaccine is right for you.

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