Getting older and aging gracefully comes with making healthy choices. Prevention is a vital step to maintain this well-being. Therefore, today we’d be sharing simple guides to the vaccines that we must not ignore in the elderly.

Everyone has at least one older person in their life, whether it is a close or distant relative,

and in regards to our culture as Africans, we are often responsible for the well-being and welfare of these older individuals which primarily includes their health.

Back then in Uni, my lecturer would say “No matter how advanced our parents or grandparents are in age, we never want to see them leave” and that’s part of the driving forces behind this message. With advancing age, the human body loses the ability it once had and invariably becomes susceptible to many health challenges over time. It’s a very natural thing to occur, however, we can always manage it. So let’s quickly get into a few vaccines I feel every older adult should have.

The Flu Vaccine
Given the current weather and season, the flu can hit harder as we age, making the annual flu shot a crucial defense. It also contributes to community immunity, safeguarding those who are vulnerable, during vulnerable times of the year. Due to the state of the body not being at its peak, older individuals are at risk of several complications when they contract the flu, complications as serious as pneumonia which could be potentially very harmful to the respiratory system.

Yes of course the Pneumonia Vaccine:
Pneumonia can be a serious threat to older adults. The pneumonia vaccine is a safeguard against bacterial pneumonia, a common complication that can follow respiratory infections which is a high risk in aged adults as previously mentioned. A lot of people would think that this is a minor situation that could be resolved on its own, but no not really. Things are much different with our seniors so it’s best to take certain preventive measures.

Another one to consider is Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP) Vaccine:
This combination vaccine guards against three potentially severe diseases. Tetanus prevention is especially crucial, given that the bacteria can enter the body through even minor wounds. It also protects against the disease commonly called whooping cough. Coupled with recent diphtheria outbreaks in the past year, the triple protection this vaccine offers cannot be over-emphasized.

Have you heard of the Shingles Vaccine?

Shingles, caused by the same virus as chickenpox, can be more severe in older adults. The shingles vaccine is a shield against this painful condition, reducing the risk and severity of the illness. Research shows that shingles in old age cause a common complication known as Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) which is a continuous chronic nerve pain that exists even after the blisters from the shingles itself have left. See why it’s important to protect our older family members and friends?

One more vaccine I think should be added to the line-up is the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine:
While often associated with childhood, outbreaks of these diseases can still occur in adults. The MMR vaccine ensures immunity, preventing complications that can be more severe in older individuals, such as brain, testicular, or ovarian swelling.

And finally, the COVID-19 Vaccine:
The recent addition to the vaccine lineup, the COVID-19 vaccine, is a critical tool in our fight against the pandemic and to further reduce the risk of respiratory complications and death in seniors.

In embracing these vaccines, older adults not only safeguard their individual health but also contribute to the overall well-being of the community.

Regular discussions with healthcare providers can help tailor vaccination plans to individual needs, ensuring a brilliant and simple approach to longevity and health.


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