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Which Vaccines Do You Need?

Getting vaccinated is important for individuals of all ages, but especially important for those over 65.

Why are vaccines important?

As you age, your immune system weakens, making it more difficult to fight off infections. Vaccines can help protect you from contracting serious diseases like the flu, pneumonia, and shingles – all of which pose a serious health risk, especially among older adults. Getting vaccinated not only helps to keep you healthy, but it will help to keep your family and your community healthy as well.  

Talk to your doctor

Vaccination requirements vary by age, season, and even sometimes your individual health circumstance. You should always talk to your doctor about which vaccines are right for you. Vaccines can be administered at your doctor’s office and some are even available at local pharmacies.

Test your vaccine knowledge

Before speaking with your doctor, test your knowledge about which vaccines you may need by taking this short quiz:

  1. How often do you need a tetanus shot?

    a. Every year

    b. Every three years

    c. Once plus a booster every 10 years

  2. The CDC recommends which of these vaccines for shingles?

    a. Varicella

    b. Shingrix

    c. Zostavax

  3. Which condition may mean you need a meningitis vaccine?

    a. Non-functional spleen

    b. Arthritis

    c. High blood pressure

  4. How often should you get the pneumonia vaccine?

    a. Once in a lifetime

    b. Every Year

    c. Twice in a lifetime

  5. Why do you need a flu shot every year?

    a. The flu vaccine changes each year

    b. The flu virus changes each year

    c. All of the above

  6. You may not need a vaccine for measles and mumps if you were born before which year?

    a. 1945

    b. 1960

    c. 1957

Answers

  1. C. There are two tetanus shots—the Tdap shot (for tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough) and the Td shot (for tetanus and diphtheria). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends every adult have a Tdap shot once and a Td booster shot every 10 years.
  2. B. Both Shingrix and Zostavax are vaccines used to prevent shingles in older adults, but the CDC currently recommends the Shingrix vaccine over Zostavax.
  3. A. Meningitis is a bacterial infection that causes swelling around the brain and spinal cord. Because the spleen helps to kill bacteria in the bloodstream, people with a non-functional or damaged spleen are more vulnerable to many infections including meningitis.
  4. C. To protect yourself against pneumonia after age 65, the CDC recommends two vaccines given at separate visits. The first vaccine is called PVC13, the second is called PPSV23. Your doctor can tell you how much time should pass between getting the first and second vaccine.
  5. C. The flu vaccine is only effective for that year’s flu season. The flu vaccine changes each year because the flu virus also changes slightly every year. Getting a flu shot early in the fall offers you the best protection.
  6. C. Nobody was vaccinated before 1957. If you were born before 1957, you may have had the disease and already have immunity. However, check with your doctor if you are unsure if you need the vaccine.

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