Although most senior citizens are aware of the annual flu vaccine’s importance, many do not know that two other immunizations are recommended for all adults over the age of 65.
Pneumonia is the leading cause of illness and death among seniors. Each year it causes more than 46,000 deaths in the U.S., more than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined.
There are two types of pneumonia — viral and bacterial. Bacterial pneumonia is the most serious and can be caused by several types of bacteria. The pneumonia vaccine is effective against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria, says Dr. Craig Rubin, chairman of geriatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
“The vaccine is safe and effective, provides long-term protection, and can be given at any time of the year,” Dr. Rubin says.
Seniors should also receive a tetanus booster once every 10 years. Although most people are immunized against tetanus as children, the protection does not last a lifetime.
The disease is caused by a common bacterium that lives in soil and dust. The bacteria typically enter the body through a deep puncture wound or cut, like those made by nails or knives. However, most cases of tetanus in older adults occur in people who don’t recall a major recent injury.
The booster shot is given typically as a combined tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, which also provides protection against diphtheria, a more rare disease.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/patientcare/medicalservices/geriatrics.html to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in geriatrics.
Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford
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