Older Adults Not Getting Recommended Vaccines

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Skipping necessary vaccines leaves millions of older adults at risk of dying, being hospitalized, or suffering debilitating effects that last for years.

Skipping necessary vaccines leaves millions of older adults at risk of dying, being hospitalized, or suffering debilitating effects that last for years.

Three out of four Americans older than 60 don’t get a shingles vaccine to protect themselves from the virus’ miseries: rashes over the face and body, stinging pain that can last for weeks or months and the threat of blindness, reports Kaiser Health News.

Many older adults are not getting their recommended vaccines. The rates for older adults getting flu, pneumonia, tetanus or shingles shots – the four most used vaccines among the elderly – have stayed flat and trail national goals, according to latest federal data. That leaves millions of older adults at risk of dying, being hospitalized, or suffering debilitating effects that last for years.

— One in three seniors each year skips the flu vaccine, recommended annually for everyone over 6-months-old. Between 3,000 and 49,000 Americans, primarily older adults, died of flu or related illnesses each flu season for 30 years through 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest estimates. Immunization rates for seniors have been around 65 percent for more than 15 years. The federal government’s goal is 90 percent by 2020.

— Four in 10 seniors are not vaccinated for pneumonia. It’s recommended once for people 65 and older who did not have it previously. Pneumonia affects about 900,000 seniors a year. Immunization rates are up only slightly in the past decade.

— Nearly half of seniors are not immunized for tetanus. A shot is recommended once every 10 years to prevent a rare but often deadly bacterial condition known as “lockjaw.” Vaccination rates have changed little since 2008.

— The shingles vaccine has the lowest adoption rates by older adults regarding those leading preventives — 76 percent of them had not received it as of 2013, the latest year that data is available. There are an estimated 1 million cases each year in the United States, half among people older than 60. Shingles is caused by a reactivation in the body of the same virus that causes chickenpox. The vaccine, approved in 2006, is recommended once for everyone age 60 and over, regardless whether they had chickenpox. Nearly one out of three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime.

Read entire story here from Kaiser Health News.