August is National Immunization Awareness Month

Senior woman smiling with bandaid on arm after receiving a vaccination.

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Growing up, most of us receive many vaccines. Indeed, it’s usually required to attend school. But as adults, we think we no longer need them. That’s not true! As we get older, our immune systems tend to weaken over time, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases, according to the CDC. What’s more, it’s not just about us. Meaning, when we get vaccinated, we also protect others because we’ll be significantly less likely to spread a disease; there’s even a term for this, community immunity.

So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. We’ll start with shingles because a lot of people have questions about them and whether or not to get a vaccine. Well, according to the CDC, people 50 and older should get a shingles vaccine. And, for those of you who are worried you may have already contracted it from someone who’s infected with it, here’s the deal: If you’ve had chickenpox before, then you’re immune to contracting shingles. However, for people who have never had chickenpox or didn’t get the chickenpox vaccine, they can become infected with shingles (aka varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox) from someone who has shingles through (1) direct contact with the fluid from their shingles blisters or (2) breathing in virus particles from their blisters. But there’s a twist; if they do contract it, they will actually develop chickenpox, not shingles, although they could then develop shingles later in life, according to the CDC.

Another vaccine the CDC recommends for adults is the pneumococcal vaccine for pneumonia. This recommendation is for people 65 and older. There are two kinds of pneumococcal vaccines available in the United States: Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15 and PCV20) and Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Ask your physician which is best for you.

Now let’s talk COVID-19. Many people think that because the COVID-19 epidemic is over, there’s no need for a booster. The truth is, that while life has returned to normal, per se, people can still contract COVID-19, and that’s why the CDC recommends that people aged 65 years and older get a second dose of updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, the CDC states that people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised may get additional doses of updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

We understand, this is a lot of information, and it can become a little confusing. To make things a bit easier, below is a list from the CDC website of vaccines they advise adults to be up to date on, broken down by age groups. Please keep in mind you should always confer with your physician first before getting a vaccine as some may be inappropriate if a person is immunocompromised or has some other health issue. But generally speaking, the list below from the CDC is a good rule of thumb to go by. (For more detailed information, please visit the CDC website: www.cdc.gov.)

Vaccines you need:
All adults ages 19 to 26 years should make sure they’re up to date on the following vaccines:

Vaccines you need:
All adults ages 27 to 49 years should make sure they’re up to date on these vaccines:

Vaccines you need:
All adults ages 50 to 64 years should make sure they’re up to date on these vaccines:

Vaccines you need:
All adults ages 65 and older should make sure they’re up to date on these vaccines:

Again, it’s still important to consult your doctor regarding what vaccines to get, particularly because you may need additional vaccines based on your age or other factors. These may include:

This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality home health and private care to Indian River and Brevard County patients. For more information about VNA services, call 772-494-6161 in Indian River County or 321-752-7550 in Brevard County or visit www.vnatc.com

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