Did You Get Your Pneumococcal Vaccine?

August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a project of the CDC and National Public Health Information Coalition.

Immunizations are a public health concern because un-immunized people can spread diseases to their loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers. Vaccines are especially important for seniors, because their bodies are often frailer and more susceptible to complications of various diseases.

Here at Regency Nursing, we take vaccines very seriously for our residents and staff. If you visit loved ones at a Regency facility often, we request you stay up-to-date on your vaccines. The last thing you want to do is infect your elderly loved one or her roommate.

In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, we’ll highlight a different vaccine every week on our blog. There are specific vaccines that are recommended specifically for seniors, so today we’ll talk about a vaccine you should take if you’re 65 or older.

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Pneumococcal Infections

Pneumococci are a type of bacteria that love infecting people with illnesses that range from mildly annoying to life-threatening. Healthy people can carry the bacteria in their nasal passages, and spread it to other less healthy people by sneezing or coughing.

The most common infections, from mild to severe, are:

  • Ear infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis
  • Meningitis

Ear and sinus infections, while painful and sometimes debilitating, are generally complication-free. There are cases where these usually harmless infections turned deadly, but the chance of that happening is extremely small.

On the other hand, pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis are serious infections that can be deadly if not treated promptly. They also carry a high risk of hospitalization and complication.

Old age is a risk factor in all three of these serious pneumococcal infections, and elderly people are also more likely to suffer complications from them. Hospitalization alone can significantly raise your risk of complication.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Fortunately, there is a fairly effective way to protect yourself or your loved one against pneumococcal infections. You even have options: there are two approved pneumococcal shots available.

The Centers for Disease Control advises all adults 65 years and older to get either the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, marketed as Prevnar 13, or the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, brand name Pneumovax.

If you are 65 years old or above and have not yet gotten either of these shots, talk with your doctor today.



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