National Immunization Awareness Month
August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), an annual observance held to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages.
Amid COVID-19 and the race for a vaccine for the virus, it’s important for seniors to stay on top of other immunizations and regular doctor visits (even if virtual) to maintain their health, particularly this month. The Alliance for Aging Research urges Americans to remember that August is a “vitally important time start vaccinating the whole family — especially older adults.”
Fellowship Square offers the following vaccination tips in honor of NIAM.
The Alliance for Aging Research also notes that seniors are among the “vulnerable population” that is “most at risk of contracting preventable communicable illnesses and accounts for the majority of diagnoses and deaths.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a recommended Adult Immunization Schedule for those 19 and older. An adult vaccine assessment tool on the organization’s website can help determine what vaccines seniors might need. This list of course should be reviewed with seniors’ health care professionals prior to receiving any shots to ensure the list of recommendations from the assessment tool matches up with their doctor’s advice.
It’s important that seniors note some medical conditions or stipulations can put them at higher risk for certain infections so they should always tell their physician their complete health history. In general, vaccines become even more important as people age because as they do so their immune systems weaken, which makes them more susceptible to illness. According to the U.S. Department and Health & Human Services website vaccines.gov, “If you have an ongoing health condition — like diabetes or heart disease — getting vaccinated is especially important. Vaccines can protect you from serious diseases (and related complications) so you can stay healthy as you age.”
The flu shot is a common vaccine that is recommended for seniors. The CDC notes that “people 65 years and older are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu compared with young, healthy adults.” The CDC attributes that to the aforementioned weakened immune systems of seniors. Despite the fact that flu seasons vary in severity from year to year, the organization still stands behind the belief that the “best way to protect against the flu and its potential serious complication is with a flu vaccine,” and recommends all people over six months of age get a seasonal flu vaccine every year by the end of October.
Many seniors that are sheltering in place may be hesitant to see their doctors amid the COVID-19 pandemic — and understandably so. However, it’s vital for seniors not to “medical distance” while social distancing… especially those that are immunity compromised and have serious health issues that demand medical attention. Seniors should stay in contact with their doctors via virtual health consultations or consider concierge treatment as needed so they don’t get hit with a different illness while trying to avoid COVID-19 exposure. Fellowship Square encourages seniors to speak with their health care professionals to ensure they are getting the care, and the immunizations, they need.