1. Your immune system weakens as you age
Did you know that your immune system weakens as you age? That’s one of the reasons diseases like shingles and the flu are more common among older adults. Since it becomes harder to fight off infections, older adults are also more likely to experience long-term illness, require hospitalization, or encounter other complications from getting sick.
No doubt, there are many other things you’d rather do than be stuck at home, sick. Spending time with loved ones can be much more fun when you and they are healthy.
2. Immunizations prevent serious and life-threatening illness
Staying up-to-date (and making sure your older loved ones are up-to-date) on immunizations can prevent serious and life-threatening illness. Even if you get sick with the disease you’ve been vaccinated against, your illness will likely be less severe. For example, studies show that people who’ve had the flu vaccine but get sick with the flu have a lower risk of hospitalization.
3. Diseases can be harder on older adults with chronic health conditions
Many older adults have chronic health conditions. That makes immunizations especially important. A chronic condition can make it harder to fight off infection, and can make complications from illness even more severe. For example, flu increases the risk of heart attack if you have heart disease, can raise blood sugar if you have diabetes, and can lead to pneumonia or other respiratory problems if you have chronic lung disease (Source: Alliance for Aging Research).
Vaccines that most older adults need:
- Shingles or recombinant zoster (called Shingrix)
- Pneumococcal (pneumonia)
4. Immunizations keep your loved ones safe
Staying up-to-date on your immunizations can also keep other people safe. For example, half of the infants who get whooping cough are hospitalized. You protect your grandchildren and other small children when you stay current on the pertussis vaccine (administered in the Tdap vaccine).
5. Immunizations are available at low or no out-of-pocket cost
As of January 1st, Medicare Part D now covers all routine vaccines with no out-of-pocket cost, including the pneumococcal and shingles vaccines. Medicare also covers many health screenings and preventive services. Flu and pneumococcal vaccines are also covered by Medicare Part B. Most private insurance plans provide for routine immunizations at no or low cost.
6. Immunizations protect you when you travel
Nobody wants to get sick on their dream vacation! Some diseases that no longer occur here are still present in other countries. Preparing for your trip should include getting up-to-date on your vaccines, and checking on whether additional vaccines are needed or advised based on your destination and your individual needs. Learn more about travel vaccines here and here.