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Health & Wellness  >>    Every Vaccine You "NEED" After Age 50

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Every Vaccine You "NEED" After Age 50

If you've lost track of which shot you last got — or are worried you don't know the latest about something like the new shingles vaccine — check out this list of what you need, when

by Barbara Stepko, AARP, August 10, 2018 

The following article appeared in an e-mail I received from AARP.  They are supposed to support and protect seniors (people over the age of 50).  My perspective and comments are in Back Bold Italics after each section.

Just a little pinch. For many of us, the word “vaccination” conjures images of dreaded trips to the pediatrician decades ago. But it’s not all about the kids. Adults — yes, even those 50 and older — need a poke to protect against serious, and potentially lethal, diseases. Protection from some of the vaccines you received as a child can wear off over time, and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sometimes change. “There are new vaccines that have come out in the past several years, specifically aimed at older adults,” says Morgan Katz, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Below you'll find the four vaccinations every adult needs, followed by two — for hepatitis A and B — that you need only if you have certain risk factors. What you won't see on the list? Measles and chicken pox vaccines. Anyone born before 1957 wouldn't need a measles vaccine because the disease was so prevalent when they grew up that immunity as an adult is assumed. Chicken pox is similar in that most adults already have immunity from childhood exposure to the disease, says Katz. “Almost all adults over 40 have been exposed to chicken pox,” she says, noting that it would be “an extremely rare case” for an adult not to have been. That said, if you think you could be in that tiny minority, ask your doctor about getting the chicken pox vaccine as an adult.

For the rest of the list, you can get your necessary shots at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and other locations. And most health insurance plans will pick up the tab. So stop in and let ‘em stick it to you. 

The Influenza Vaccine

Influenza vaccine 

Who needs it: All adults, no matter what their age.

How often: Once a year. “The virus itself changes every year,” says Katz. “Researchers try to predict what will be the most common strain that season, then reformulate the vaccine accordingly.” Flu season typically begins in October and ends in March; the CDC recommends rolling up your sleeve by the end of October since it takes about two weeks after a vaccination for flu-fighting antibodies to develop in the body.  

Why you need it: The flu can lead to hospitalization and sometimes death — and seniors are the most vulnerable. Studies show that a vaccination can reduce the risk of illness by as much as 40 to 60 percent.

Talk to your doctor if: You’ve had a severe reaction to the flu shot in the past, are allergic to eggs (funny enough, the flu vaccine is most commonly grown in them), have (or have had) Guillain-Barré syndrome, or have a fever. (In that case, you'll likely be asked to wait until your temp is back to normal before you get the vaccine.)

Parting shot: Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s a possibility you could get the flu. How well the inoculation protects depends on different factors, including your age and health status. That said, a flu vaccination may lessen the severity of illness if you do get sick. A 2017 study found that flu vaccination reduced ICU admissions and the length of hospital stays among flu patients. 

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine: 

I see patients every year from all over the country and I ask them about the flu in their part of the world.  I always get the same response, "It really isn't as bad as they hype it to be."  With 325.7 Million people, the CDC says the following from their website. 

Does CDC know the exact number of people who die from seasonal flu each year?

CDC does not know exactly how many people die from seasonal flu each year.

The best they can do is estimate and I have seen on their website estimates ranging fro 3,000 to 56,000.  That is a very broad range and very non-specific.  And this is the agency we trust to report information to help us make health decisions.  Not doing a very good job from my perspective.  

Read my recommendations below for how to address the Vaccines Over 50 Question.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

Pneumococcal vaccine (pneumonia)

Who needs it: Healthy adults 65 years and older, or adults 19-64 with certain risk factors (smoking, or health problems, such as chronic lung or heart disease, leukemia, lymphoma or alcoholism).

How often: The CDC recommends two pneumococcal vaccines for healthy adults 65 and older. Don’t get them at the same time. You should receive a dose of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), then a dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23) one year later. Those who have any of the risk factors above should get one dose each of PCV13 and PPSV23 before age 65, separated by eight weeks.

Why you need it: Pneumococcal disease, which can cause pneumonia, kills more people in the U.S. each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. An estimated 28,000 cases and 2,900 deaths from invasive pneumococcal disease occurred in 2014. Young children and those over 65 have the highest incidence of serious illness, and older adults are more likely to die from it. Experts estimate PCV13 prevented more than 30,000 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease and 3,000 deaths in its first three years of use.

Parting shot: If you work around chronically ill people — say, in a hospital or nursing home — you should get the vaccine, even if you’re healthy.

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine:

According to the CDC, Each year in the United States, about 1 million people have to seek care in a hospital due to pneumonia. Unfortunately, about 50,000 people die from the disease each year in the United States. Most of the people affected by pneumonia in the United States are adults.

Read my recommendations below for how to address the Vaccines Over 50 Question.

Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis (Tdap)

Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine and/or the Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster

Who needs it: The Tdap vaccine came out in 2005, and along with protecting against tetanus and diphtheria, like the vaccine it replaced, it also includes new, additional protection against whooping cough, also known as pertussis. If you can’t remember ever getting this shot, you probably need it. And doing so, says Katz, can also count for one of the Td boosters you’re supposed to get every 10 years. (You know the one ... it's the shot you wonder if you're current on after you step on a rusty nail during your vacation.)

How often: You get Tdap only once, and after that, you still need the Td booster every 10 years. Otherwise, your protection against tetanus and diphtheria will fade.

Why you need it: Due to a rise in whooping cough cases in the U.S., you really do need to be vaccinated against it, even if you’re over 65. In the first year after getting vaccinated, Tdap prevents the illness in about 7 out of 10 people who received the vaccine. 

Talk to your doctor if you: Have epilepsy or other nervous system problems, had severe swelling or pain after a previous dose of either vaccine, or have (or have had) Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Parting shot: This vaccine is especially crucial for people who have close contact with infants younger than 12 months of age — including parents, grandparents, and child care providers.

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine:

Again, looking to the CDC for statisitics, I found the following:

Diptheria: from 1980 - 89, 24 cases were reported and 2 of those children died.  18 cases were reported over the age of 20.

Tetanus: from 1987 -88, 99 cases were reported with 68 cases occurring in those 50 years or older.

Pertussis: there were no statistics for pertussis in the elderly.

And yet complications from exposure to the vaccine results in side effects and complications.  As reported on the CDC Website: Local reactions (generally erythema and induration with or without tenderness) are common after the administration of vaccines containing diphtheria, tetanus, or pertussis antigens. Occasionally, a nodule may be palpable at the injection site of adsorbed products for several weeks. Sterile abscesses at the injection site have been reported rarely (6-10/million doses of DTP). Mild systemic reactions such as fever, drowsiness, fretfulness, and anorexia occur frequently. These reactions are substantially more common following the administration of DTP than of DT, but they are self-limited and can be safely managed with symptomatic treatment.

Does Medicare cover that?  Not if you had the vaccine as a preventative.  Something to consider.  More required treatments that may not be covered.

Read my recommendations below for how to address the Vaccines Over 50 Question.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster) Vaccine

Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine

Who needs it: The CDC recommends that everyone 50 and older get the new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, even if they had the earlier recommended vaccine, Zostavax — which was much less effective — and even if they've already had shingles. 

How often: For now, the CDC is recommending only that you get this new vaccine, which is given in two doses spaced two to six months apart, to prevent both shingles and its complications. It remains to be seen if the agency will recommend getting it again, after, say, five years, as its effectiveness starts to wane. 

Why you need it: One in three people will get shingles, usually after age 50. The risk rises with age. By 85, half of adults will have had at least one outbreak. Chicken pox and shingles are caused by the same virus, varicella zoster. After a person recovers from chicken pox, this virus stays dormant for decades in the body, ready to appear when the immune system is weakened by stress, medication or disease. This infection causes a red rash and painful blisters. About 15 percent of sufferers are left with extreme nerve pain — a condition called postherpetic neuralgia (or PHN), which can last for months or years. Shingrix can protect 97 percent of people in their 50s and 60s, and 91 percent of those in their 70s and 80s. 

Talk to your physician if you: Are not feeling well, or currently have shingles. There are few other reasons not to get the vaccine. 

Parting shot: Older adults should also get this vaccine whether or not they remember having had chicken pox as a child. Why? More than 99 percent of Americans over the age of 40 have been exposed to the varicella zoster virus, even if they don’t recall getting chicken pox. 

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine:

The CDC Website offers the following information: Almost 1 out of 3 people in the United States will develop shingles during their lifetime. Most people who get shingles will have it only once. However, it is possible to get it a second or even third time.

Your risk of getting shingles increases as you get older. The most common complication of shingles is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is severe pain in the areas where the shingles rash occurred. About 10 to 15% of people who get shingles will experience PHN. The risk of PHN increases with age.

Shingles is increasing among adults in the United States. The increase has been gradual over a long period of time. We do not know the reason for this increase.

Dr. Huntoon has treated Shingles on several patients over the years, including himself.  He is able to reduce and eliminate the signs and symptoms of shingles in about 1 - 2 weeks if we catch it early on.  Consider calling us if you are told you have shingles ASAP.

Read my recommendations below for how to address the Vaccines Over 50 Question.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

Hepatitis A vaccine 

Who needs it: People 50 and older who are at high risk for hepatitis A (HAV), a disease of the liver. Infections result primarily from travel to another country where hepatitis A virus transmission is common, through close contact with a hepatitis A-infected individual, or recreational drug use.

How often: Once, but given in two doses over six months.

Why you need it: Hepatitis A rates in U.S. have declined by more than 95 percent since the hepatitis A vaccine first became available in 1995. In 2016, there were an estimated 4,000 hepatitis A cases in the U.S.

Parting shot: This is a sneaky disease. You may not have any telltale signs — and the likelihood of symptoms decreases as you age.

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine:

In 2015, a total of 1,390 cases of hepatitis A were reported to CDC from 50 states.   It is primarily caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the feces of a person infected with the hepatitis A virus. A two- or three-dose vaccination for hepatitis A before exposure to the virus prevents the disease for as long as 20 years.

In the United States, there are about 80,000 new cases of hepatitis A each year. The incidence varies widely with age, socioeconomic class, geography, and other factors. Cases of hepatitis A may occur sporadically, one case at a time, or in epidemics. It is a significant risk following natural disasters, particularly floods, when the water and sanitation systems may be compromised. Children in communities with high rates of hepatitis A are vulnerable because they frequently put contaminated food and objects in their mouths.

Read my recommendations below for how to address the Vaccines Over 50 Question.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

Hepatitis B vaccine

Who needs it: Adults 50 and older who are at risk for contracting hepatitis B, a liver infection. Hepatitis B is transmitted when a body fluid (blood, semen, saliva) from a person infected with the hepatitis B virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through sexual contact, or things like contact with blood or open sores (say, from a job that exposes you to human blood or other bodily fluids), or sharing anything from a needle to a razor to a toothbrush with an infected person. Other risk factors for infection include being on kidney dialysis, traveling to countries where hepatitis B is common, or having HIV.

How often: Adults getting the vaccine need three doses — the second dose given four weeks after the first; the third dose five months after the second. There is also a combination vaccine for both hepatitis A and B called Twinrix, which is given in three doses over six months.

Why you need it: The CDC estimates that the estimated number of new HBV infections in 2016 was 20,900.

Talk to your physician if you: Have a life-threatening allergy to yeast, or to any other component of the vaccine, or are moderately or severely ill when a dose of vaccine is scheduled.

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine:

According to the CDC, For many people, especially adults and older children, the virus will be cleared from the body after this initial infection. In contrast, around six percent of adults30 percent of children, and roughly 90 percent of infants exposed at birth will not clear the virus and will develop a chronic hepatitis B infection.

Getting a vaccine for something you will most likely not be exposed to after age 50, unless you live and alternative life-style, makes going for the vaccine questionable at best. 

Side-effects include the following: 

irritability (especially in children), injection site reactions (pain, soreness, redness, swelling), fever, headache, tiredness, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite, fatigue, weakness, and dizziness.

Read my recommendations below for how to address the Vaccines Over 50 Question.

Why Are They Not Recommending The Hepatitis C Vaccine?

Dr. Huntoon's Perspective on this vaccine:

I find it ironic that AARP are not recommending the Hep C Vaccine, considering the commercials are all over for it.  Read my article on Hepatitis C Hysteria for a complete understanding.

Your Solution

Meeting with your Holistic Chiropractor would be a good place to start for some guidance.  Supporting your body to have a Strong Immune System is important and we would ask you to read this article and consider contacting Dr. Huntoon to learn How To Have A Strong Immune System.  We would also like you to read this article on Vaccines and Future Health Concerns.

Dr. Huntoon has done lots of research and recommends the following website The National Vaccine Information Center for the most up to date information on all vaccines, the statistics on adverse events and what you will want to consider before following the AARP's recommendations.  

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