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Older adults and vaccination:
it’s a lifelong process

When you think of getting vaccinated, babies and children might come to mind. But did you know that getting vaccinated is also an important part of staying healthy as we age? Here’s why:

Some vaccines wear off over time
While some vaccines give you lifelong protection against certain diseases, others wear off over time. Some vaccines require another dose in adulthood to stay protected, which is often called a booster shot. Vaccination is an important part of your health, no matter how old you are. Staying up-to-date with your vaccinations also protects those around you from getting sick, such as babies, the elderly and people who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.  

Older adults are more vulnerable to certain vaccine-preventable diseases
As we get older, our immune systems become weaker. This means we are at a greater risk of harm for certain vaccine-preventable diseases, such as the flu. Others are more common in our older age, such as shingles and pneumococcal disease. Getting vaccinated greatly reduces your risk of suffering severe complications from these diseases.

It’s never too late to make sure you’re up-to-date with your routine pediatric vaccinations, such as measles, mumps and rubella!

Other recommended booster shots include:

    • Diphtheria (every 10 years)
    • Tetanus (every 10 years)
    • Pertussis (once in adulthood)

    Older adults are also recommended to be vaccinated against the following diseases:

    • Influenza (flu)
    • Herpes zoster (shingles)
    • Pneumococcal disease

    If you have a medical condition (such as diabetes or cardiac diseases) or other risk factors, your vaccination requirements may change. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the vaccines you need.

    Some recommended vaccinations for adults are free, but not all of them. This can be different depending on the province or territory in which you live. Check out your province or territory’s routine immunization schedule to see which vaccines are free, or click here. Note that most travel vaccines are not covered provincial/territorial health care plans.

    Older adults are more vulnerable to complications from the flu, and are more likely to be hospitalized for flu-related illnesses. This is because our immune systems become weaker as we get older, and having the flu makes it more difficult to fight off other infections (such as pneumonia). Getting your yearly flu shot reduces your risk of serious illness. It also reduces the likelihood you will spread this to elderly loved ones.

    Shingles (known as Herpes Zoster) is a virus that occurs more often in older adults. It is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, and is characterized by a painful rash and blisters. Adults with shingles can spread the virus to young children who are not immune to it, causing them to develop the chickenpox. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and others from the disease.

    If you have plans to travel, always consult a travel medicine specialist or your healthcare provider about which vaccines you need to stay protected. To learn more, visit the “Travel Vaccinations” section of CANImmunize.

    If you don’t know where your immunization record is or when you were last vaccinated, talk to your healthcare provider or local public health office. They will help you figure out the vaccines you need and where you can go to get them.

    Always keep your immunization record in a safe and memorable place. You can also keep track of your vaccinations and receive reminders for when you are due for the next one using CANImmunize.

    The content and resources provided by CANImmunize are generated by the mHealth Lab team and its partners, including medical experts from leading Canadian Health Organizations. It is designed to help you make the most informed decisions about your and your family’s vaccination needs, but should not replace medical advice. Please discuss these topics with your healthcare provider. No content on the CANImmunize platform implies endorsement.

    Last updated: 01/11/2018

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