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Good Health? It's Worth a Shot
Some health advice is complicated, but the advice about three important vaccines is simple: Get the shots.
The vaccines are for flu, pneumonia, and shingles. The flu shot is for nearly everyone, while the pneumonia and shingles shots target specific age groups.
Shield Yourself From the Flu
Nearly every adult should have a yearly flu vaccine, experts say. People age 65 and older are more susceptible to the flu, making the flu shot event more important for this age group.
If you're age 65 or older, you now have two flu shot options—the regular-dose flu shot and a high-dose version designed to bring about a stronger immune response. Ask your doctor which is best for you.
Research shows that vaccination may lower flu-related hospital visits by about 70 percent among adults of all ages. Get the vaccine as soon as you can this fall. That way you're protected when flu season hits. Even if you had a shot last year, you need another one to fight the most current flu strains.
Are You Due for a Pneumonia Vaccine?
The flu can sometimes lead to pneumonia, a lung infection typically caused by bacteria or viruses. Having a weakened immune system and certain health problems, like asthma, diabetes or COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) increase your risk for pneumonia.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all adults age 65 and older be vaccinated against pneumonia. You may also need this vaccine if you are younger than 65 and:
Are taking a medication or treatment that decreases the body's resistance to infection (e.g. radiation therapy, certain cancer medications, long-term steroid use)
Sidestep the Pain of Shingles
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, will affect nearly one in three people in the U.S. in their lifetime. The condition causes a blistering rash—usually on one side of the face or body—and can lead to scarring and problems with eyesight. In some people, it can result in debilitating pain for weeks, months, or even years.
Shingles develops from the varicella zoster virus—the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus lives dormant in your nerve cells. When the virus is reactivated, shingles results. About half of all cases of shingles occur in men and women age 60 or older, and the risk increases with age.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that most people ages 60 and older get the one-time vaccination. Research shows the vaccine reduces occurrence of the disease by about 50 percent in this group. It also can reduce the duration of symptoms in those who develop it. The vaccine is most effective in people ages 60 to 69. Although a shingles recurrence is uncommon, the vaccine can work for people who have had shingles before.
The shingles vaccine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people age 50 years and older. However, the CDC does not have a recommendation for routine use of shingles vaccine in people who are 50 through 59 years old.
Ask your physician if these vaccines are appropriate for you.
Always consult your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional before changing your daily activity, diet, or adding a supplement.
Find the closest Rite Aid that offers flu shots and immunizations. No appointment necessary.
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Clinical Overview. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, May 1, 2014. www.cdc.gov/shingles/hcp/clinical-overview.html.
Get Vaccinated: Flu Activity Expected to Increase in Coming Weeks." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/features/flu.
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Pneumococcal Vaccine: Who Needs It?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pneumo/vacc-in-short.htm.
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Take Time to Get a Flu Vaccine.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, September 15, 2011. www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/freeresources/general/take3_step_vac.pdf.
Vaccine Effectiveness: How Well Does the Flu Vaccine Work?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,. www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaccineeffect.htm .
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Zostavax.” Merck, Sharp and Dohme. Accessed 8/4/14; last updated 1/13.
What Is Pneumonia?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pnu/printall-index.html.
Protecting Yourself From Shingles” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/magazine/issues/winter10/articles/winter10pg16-17.html