Vaccinations, also called immunizations, are important for children as well as adults. By helping your body build immunity, vaccines can protect you against serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases.
You may recall getting most of your vaccines as a child or young adult, but you still need certain vaccines as you get older. Read further to find out some important vaccinations recommended for adults over age 65.
What it is: Flu is a respiratory infection caused by various influenza viruses. The flu virus can be very serious for older adults, especially if you have certain health conditions.
Recommended vaccination schedule: Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all persons aged 6 months and older who do not have contraindications.
Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
What it is: Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox . If you’ve had chickenpox, the virus can stay in your body for years and come back later in life as shingles. Adults are at highest risk for shingles after age 50, but anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles.
Recommended vaccination schedule: A one-time shingles vaccine is recommended for people 60 and older, but in some cases it is given to people between ages 50 and 59.
What it is: Pneumococcal infections can cause a range of serious illnesses including pneumonia, ear infection, sinus infection, sepsis, and meningitis. Adults over 65 and people with certain medical conditions or a compromised immune system are at risk for getting seriously ill from pneumococcal infection.
Recommended vaccination schedule: There are 2 different pneumococcal vaccines. Both are recommended for all adults age 65 and older. Whether you need one or both depends on your vaccine history. Talk with your Rite Aid Pharmacist or doctor to find out which pneumococcal vaccines are recommended for you.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis
What it is: Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are serious infections caused by bacteria. Tetanus causes painful tightening of the muscles and can lead to “lock jaw,” making it impossible to open your mouth or swallow – a medical emergency. Diphtheria is a rare, serious illness that affects the mucous membranes of the nose and throat, and can cause severe complications involving the heart, kidneys, and nervous system. Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is a respiratory infection that causes uncontrollable coughing.
Recommended vaccination schedule: Adults 65 and older who have not already received a tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) or whose Tdap vaccine history is unknown should get a one-time Tdap vaccination and also get a tetanus-diphtheria (Td) booster every 10 years.
You may need additional vaccines if you have not had certain ones before age 65, if you have specific health conditions, or if you are at increased risk for contracting a disease because of your work or travel, you use IV drugs, or you have multiple sex partners. Talk to your doctor about which additional vaccines are right for you, if any. Possible vaccines may include:
- Meningococcal (meningitis)
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Varicella (chickenpox): recommended only for adults who have not had chickenpox
- Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
2015 Recommended Immunizations for Adults: By Age, Centers for Disease Control:
Diphtheria, Medline Plus:
Flu, Medline Plus:
Health Screening – men age 65 and older, Medline Plus:
Health Screening – women – over age 65, Medline Plus:
Immunization, Medline Plus:
Pertussis, Medline Plus:
Pneumococcal Infections, Medline Plus:
Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule - United States - 2015, Centers for Disease Control:
Shingles, Medline Plus:
Summary of Recommendations for Adult Immunization, Immunization Action Coalition:
Tetanus, Medline Plus: