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Carillon Recognizes August as National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and Carillon wants to remind all seniors and their caregivers about the vital role vaccinations can play in keeping seniors healthy. By staying up to date on vaccinations, seniors can help reduce the risk of developing a serious illness, such as the flu or pneumonia.

Flu season typically starts in October and usually peaks between December and February. Symptoms of the flu include fever, aches, weakness and chills. Older adults may potentially be more susceptible to the flu virus due to weakened immune systems.

“It’s important for seniors to get in front of the flu and to protect against possible infections,” says Chuck Jennings, Director of Clinical Operations and Risk Management at Carillon. “Older adults with heart disease or respiratory issues who catch the flu could experience a domino effect. The flu could lead to pneumonia, which could make existing conditions even worse. It’s best to arm yourself on the front end, and flu shots are one way to help preserve a person’s health.”

The flu vaccine injection must be administered every year to protect against the most recent strains of the virus. “Side effects from the flu vaccine are minimal,” Jennings says. “They may include swelling, soreness and redness at the injection site, a low-grade fever and lack of appetite. When you receive the flu vaccine you are receiving an inactive version of the virus. The body attacks that inactive virus, which may cause the side effects. But that’s also how the body learns to develop an immunity to the flu.”

The pneumococcal vaccine is also recommended for adults over the age of 65 to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia. Pneumococcal pneumonia can cause fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, cough and bloody phlegm. The vaccine comes in two types: PCV13 and PCV23. PCV13 guards against 13 types of pneumococcal pneumonia, while PCV23 guards against 23 types. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults over the age of 65 receive both vaccines two years apart, starting with PCV13.

Both the flu vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccines are covered under Medicare Part B.

The shingles vaccine is another common immunization seniors should consider. Shingles is a painful blistering rash that can occur anywhere on the body. The same virus that causes chicken pox also causes shingles. The CDC reports that around 1 out of 3 people in the United States could develop shingles during their lifetime.

“People often want to know if they should get vaccinated, even if they never had chicken pox,” Jennings says. “The answer is yes. Ninety-nine percent of people over the age of 40 have had chicken pox, whether or not they remember having the illness in childhood. And even if you have had a shingles outbreak, you should still get the vaccine, as long as you don’t currently have shingles. If by chance you experience another shingles outbreak, the vaccine may lessen the severity of the symptoms.”

In addition to receiving immunizations to help prevent the flu, pneumococcal pneumonia and shingles, adults should also receive Tdap booster shots every 10 years. Tdap provides ongoing protection against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough).

Posted in Sage Stories on August 1, 2017

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