Adults and Seniors: Are You Up To Date With This Booster?

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, today we’re going to talk about a booster shot every single adult should get every 10 years.

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The Tdap Vaccine and Td Booster

The Tdap vaccine immunizes you against three diseases; tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.

  • Tetanus, also called lockjaw, is an infection that causes severe muscle spasms. Symptoms usually start in the jaw and spread to the rest of the body. The illness can last a month, and it can take many more months to fully recover. The disease is fatal in about 10 percent of cases.

    The bacteria that cause tetanus are commonly found in soil, saliva, dust, and manure. People can contract tetanus through a cut or puncture wound by a contaminated object. After getting any kind of puncture wound, you should immediately get a tetanus shot if you are not up-to-date. Being immunized is the best way to prevent tetanus.

  • Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection of the mucus membranes in the throat and nose. Untreated diphtheria can cause severe damage to the kidneys, nervous system, and heart.

    Diphtheria is common in undeveloped countries, and rare in the United States. However, anyone who isn’t up to date on immunization is at risk of contracting the disease from someone else.

  • Pertussis is also known as whooping cough. It’s a respiratory disease that can cause serious illness in people of all ages, although it is most fatal for babies. Seniors are also at higher risk of complications from pertussis.

The Tdap vaccine is usually given to children. The CDC recommends that if you did not receive the immunization as a child, you should get the Tdap as early as possible.

In addition, all adults should get a Td booster—a formula that boosts your immunity to tetanus and diphtheria—every 10 years.

If you have not gotten the booster in the last 10 years, speak with your doctor about getting it today.

 

All About the Shingles 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 over 50.

national immunization awareness month logo

Shingles

Shingles is acute, painful nerve inflammation. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus as chickenpox. If you have ever had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus remains, dormant, in your body. It can reappear at any time in the form of shingles.

Debilitating pain is the main symptom of shingles. A blistering rash usually begins 1–5 days after the pain begins, often on one band of skin. The outbreak can last between 2 and 4 weeks, and can completely devastate daily function, especially in the elderly.

Other symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • malaise
  • nausea
  • muscle pain and weakness
  • chills
  • upset stomach
  • difficulties with urination
  • fatigue
  • joint pain
  • swollen glands

Shingles can cause complications such as skin infection, inflammation of the brain, eye problems, nerve damage, and weakness.

Your risk of a shingles outbreak goes up exponentially after 50. Therefore, the CDC recommends all individuals age 50 and up receive the singles vaccine.

Shingles Vaccine

A new vaccine called Shingrix received FDA approval last October. It involves two doses, given 2–6 months apart. The vaccine is 90 percent effective against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia—a painful nerve condition that is a known complication of shingles.

The previous shingles vaccine, Zostavax, only reduced your risk of shingles by 51 percent, so this is clearly the better option. The CDC says you should take Shingrix even if you’ve already gotten Zostavax. You should also take the vaccine if you don’t remember having had chickenpox, as you may have had it as a very young child.

Side effects of Shingrix include mild soreness, redness, and swelling at the injection site. Some people also reported headaches or feeling tired and achy after receiving the shot.

The worst side effects lasted 2 or 3 days, and the CDC says that even if you experience those side effects, it’s still better than suffering through weeks of shingles and possible complications.

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.

national immunization awareness month logo

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.