August is National Immunization Awareness Month, and it is a great opportunity to promote the value of immunization across the United States. Vaccines have greatly reduced infectious diseases, and are our best protection against a number of serious, and sometimes deadly diseases. Annually the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other medical experts update vaccine recommendations for children, teens, and adults based on the newest research on vaccine safety and success. Each year, thousands of adults in the U.S. suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, and even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. Vaccination not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but also helps prevent the spread of diseases to others, especially to those who are most vulnerable to severe problems, such as the elderly.
WHO NEEDS IT?
Vaccinating our children is commonplace in the United States, but few adults know they need vaccines. Vaccines are not just for kids, and you never outgrow the need for immunizations. All adults should get vaccines to protect their health, as even healthy adults can become seriously ill, and can pass diseases on to others. Immunization is especially important for older adults and for adults with chronic illnesses such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), diabetes or heart disease, as they are at higher risk of suffering complications from certain vaccine-preventable diseases like flu and pneumonia.
ARE VACCINES SAFE?
Vaccines are very safe. They are systematically tested in clinical trials with thousands of volunteers and are shown to be safe and effective before licensing by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are manufactured to make sure they follow strict guidelines. Vaccines are also carefully monitored by the CDC and FDA after they are licensed to ensure continued safety of the vaccines in the U.S.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
Side effects from vaccines are usually mild and temporary. These include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given, or a slight fever that goes away within a few days. Some people may have certain allergic reactions to vaccinations, but severe side effects are very rare. However, the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh the risks.
WHAT ARE IN VACCINES?
Vaccines contain components called antigens, the part of the vaccine that helps your body develop protection against viruses, which in turn, causes the body to increase immunity. Depending on the vaccine, they can also contain very small amounts of other ingredients, which are needed in making the vaccine or in ensuring the vaccine is safe and effective.
WHICH VACCINES DO ADULTS NEED?
The specific vaccinations adults need are determined by age, medical conditions, lifestyle, locations of travel, and vaccination history. It is recommended that all adults get the influenza (flu) vaccine each year to protect against the seasonal flu, the Td or Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster every 10 years.
TYPES OF VACCINATIONS
Flu Vaccine: The flu vaccine takes about 2 weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop for protection against influenza. It is recommended that you get vaccinated soon after the vaccine becomes available, preferably in October, in order to increase the likelihood of being protected before flu begins circulating in their area.
Tetanus and Tdap Vaccine: Tdap vaccine is recommended for adults age 19 and older who did not get Tdap as an adolescent to protect against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (all 3 caused by bacteria). Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches or wounds. Diphtheria and pertussis are both spread from person to person. After receiving the Tdap shot, adults should continue to get the Td booster every 10 years.
Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by a virus, and spreads primarily by oral contact with fecal matter, either through person to person, or by contaminated food or water. The hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for adults who have clotting factor disorders or chronic liver disease.
Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a liver infection caused by a virus and is spread from person to person, primarily through blood or semen. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for adults at high risk of infection by sexual or blood exposure to hepatitis B virus, including residents and staff of communities for the developmentally disabled, people with end-stage renal disease, and some health care and public safety workers.
Shingles: One dose of shingles vaccine is recommended for adults aged 60 years or older. Shingles is a viral infection, and occurs when chickenpox virus reactivates from a dormant state later in life. Pain from shingles lesions can be very severe and can last a year or more. In people 60 years and older, the shingles vaccine decreases the risk of shingles by approximately 50%, and early treatment can help lessen a shingles infection.
Pneumococcal Vaccine: Two pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for adults: pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), which protects against 13 of the approximately 90 types of pneumococcal bacteria that can cause pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia, and a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), which protects against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria. Both pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for all adults age 65 and older. It is easy to see that vaccines are as important to your overall health as diet and exercise, and can mean the difference between life and death. They are safe and effective, and will provide a lifetime of protection against many diseases and infections. Vaccines are one of the most convenient and safest preventative measures available. At Avanti Senior Living, the overall health of the residents is top priority. With comprehensive medical, health and wellness services provided to each resident, Avanti offers a community where you can be sure your loved one is cared for using a multi-dimensional approach to wellness by a highly-educated medical staff.