One of the best ways to protect yourself this winter season is to make sure your vaccines are up-to-date. The CDC recommends you follow a vaccine calendar. Immunity can wear off over time, making you vulnerable. Here is an overview of the top three vaccines the CDC recommends to the public.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), everyone ages 6 months and older should receive the influenza vaccination annually. For best results, get the shot by the end of October, but the window of protection stays open until mid-January and sometimes even later. The immunity gets weaker as time goes on which is why it is important to update your shot every year. The shot is also updated annually with the most common strains.
Those age 65 and older are especially vulnerable to the flu. Their immune system is not as strong as younger age groups, causing a lower response to the shot.
If you or a loved one fall into this age group, opt for the shot and not the nasal spray. There are two different types of flu shots:
- High-dose flu vaccine
- Adjuvanted flu shot
The high-dose flu shot contains four times as much antigen as a regular shot, creating a stronger immune response. An adjuvanted flu shot contains MF59, which helps to create a stronger immune response. Both of these options are ideal for the elderly population to boost immunity to the virus.
Pneumococcal disease kills thousands of adults each year. It causes three serious infections- pneumonia in the lungs, bacteremia in the bloodstream and meningitis in the brain and spinal cord. Like with the flu, the best way to prevent the bacteria is with a vaccine.
The pneumococcal vaccine comes in two parts – PCV13 and PPSV23. PCV13 provides protection against 13 different strains of pneumococcal bacteria while PPSV23 protects against 23 different strains. Both protect against meningitis and bacteremia, but only PCV13 protects against pneumonia.
The CDC recommends all adults age 65 and older receive PCV13. They also recommend anyone aged 19 and older with serious health conditions receive the protection. Do not get both vaccines at the same time, but you can get a flu vaccine and a pneumococcal vaccine at the same time.
Pneumococcal disease spreads through coughing, sneezing, and contact with others. The bacteria can live in a carrier's nose and throat without ever giving them symptoms. Avoid this dangerous disease this year by protecting yourself with a vaccine.
Shingles present as a very painful rash. It typically shows up on one side of the torso, but can also extend to other places. It is not life-threatening but is incredibly painful. The varicella-zoster virus is the cause of shingles, which also causes chickenpox. The virus sits dormant in the tissues surrounding the nervous system after having chickenpox. It may or may not cause shingles somewhere down the road, and some people can still develop shingles even after the vaccine.
The risk of getting shingles increases each year as you get older. The CDC recommends every adult over 50 years of age should receive two doses of the vaccine to prevent shingles. Separate doses by no fewer than two months and no more than six months.
By updating these vaccines, you can protect yourself from dangerous infections and viruses. For more information or to find out if you are a candidate for these preventative vaccines, talk to your doctor today.