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Senior living: The importance of vaccines for older adults


By Dr. Emad Mikhail,

Contributing writer

With increasing age, the body’s immune system gets weaker, making the chances of getting sick higher. Vaccines help your immune system fight disease over time. They work by giving the body a weakened version of a bacteria or virus so it can make the right antibodies to fight off the disease more aggressively and effectively.

Emad Mikhail, M.D., internal medicine specialist, Primary Care, Greater Newport Physicians. (Photo courtesy of MemorialCare)

Most flu and pneumonia deaths, both of which are vaccine-preventable diseases, occur among the elderly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The single-most important way to ensure that you stay healthy and strong as you age is to stay up-to-date with your vaccinations.

Why should I get vaccinated?

Staying up-to-date with your vaccinations helps you stay healthy. It is especially important for those with ongoing health conditions like diabetes or heart disease because these conditions can further weaken your immune system.

Many vaccines lose their effectiveness over time and in some cases, you need a booster to make sure you stay protected. To check this, your doctor may prescribe an antibody titer test, which measures the amount of antibodies in your blood. This test can be used to determine if you need a booster shot or if you recently had or currently have an infection.

Seniors have a recommended immunization schedule that helps prevent disease. Failure to stay current on vaccinations increases the likelihood of long-term illness or death from vaccine-preventable diseases.



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