Vaccinations for Seniors: What Health Care Providers Need to Know

March 27th 2019

Because of immunosenescence, the weakening of the immune system and progressive decline of adaptive and innate immune responses as we age, illnesses can cause significant mortality and morbidity in elderly persons.

Aging is associated with an increase in the risk and severity of infectious diseases. Because of immunosenescence, the weakening of the immune system and progressive decline of adaptive and innate immune responses as we age, illnesses can cause significant mortality and morbidity in elderly persons.

Immunosenescence is also responsible for the reduced efficacy of vaccines in older adults and is why older populations are more susceptible to the flu,

, and shingles.

pneumonia

Health care providers can be very influential in following the CDC’s recommended immunization practices to administer and document immunizations, educate on the importance of

and vaccine-preventable diseases, follow the best practice guidelines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and obtain each individual’s immunization history.

vaccination

Specific vaccinations include:

  • Theinfluenza vaccine, which should be offered by the end of October each year before the onset of influenza activity in the community. Fuzone, a recombinant vaccine, is specifically designed for those >65 years and contains 4 times hte amount of antigen as the regular flue vaccine.
  • The vaccine regimen for the treatment ofpneumococcalincludes 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23), Pneumovax, and hte 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13), Prevnar.
  • There are 2 vaccines forshinglesprevention, including Zostavax, a 1-dose live attenuated zoster vaccine for immunocompetent adults aged >50 and recommended for use in immunocompetent adults >60 years, and Shingrix, a 2-dose, adjuvanted herpes zoster subunit vaccine for the prevention of herpes zoster in adults >50 years.

Other vaccines include:

  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Pertussis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Meningococcal Disease
  • Varicella

Barriers to immunizations include fear of immunization pain, misconceptions and miseducation, and lack of access or insurance.

For elderly patients, a pharmacy is often the most accessible health care. Being knowledgeable about the guidelines and risk factors for patients is important to ensure that they get the proper counseling on vaccines.

A version of this article was originally published by Pharmacy Times. View the full article atPharmacyTimes.com.

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