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Senior Life: Immunizations

Pharmacy, Senior Life: Tips for Healthy Living

Immunizations: Are You Up-to-Date?

Courtney Feist, Pharm.D. and Jackie Thomas, Pharm.D. 

In the United States each year, thousands of adults experience long-term illness, hospitalization, and even death from vaccine-preventable diseases. Not only do those experiencing these illnesses lose money in the form of lost wages from missed work and in potential medical bills, but affected individuals can put their loved ones at risk of exposure to the illness, especially their young children or grandchildren and aging parents. Vaccines have to undergo a robust approval process and can be one of the most convenient preventative health measures you can take to keep yourself healthy. Most vaccines can be administered at the same visit if you choose.

Lewis pharmacists have access to state immunization registries which allows them to see what immunizations are recommended for you. Through an agreement with a local health care provider, Lewis Drug pharmacists are able to screen and immunize patients for many vaccinations without needing a prescription. Remember, immunizations are a very effective way to protect not only yourself, but also your loved ones. Take a moment to speak with your Lewis Drug pharmacist today to see what immunizations are recommended for you and to help make sure you are up-to-date!

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Immunization

Many patients have already completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series along with a potential booster dose prior to September 2022. Updated COVID-19 booster doses are now available that help to target strains of the virus that are more contagious and more resistant than earlier strains. Depending on your age, the vaccine you first received, and the time since your last dose, you may be eligible for an updated booster dose to help restore and broaden your protection against COVID-19. Talk with your Lewis pharmacist today to get vaccinated or have any questions you have answered. Also, visit the following sites for more information: 

https://doh.sd.gov/COVID/

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/your-vaccination.html 

Influenza Immunization

An annual influenza immunization is recommended for those six months and older.  It is especially important for those who are at a greater risk of severe flu-related complications which includes those 65 years and older, those with chronic conditions, pregnant women, and small children.  Complications from influenza can range from simple ear or sinus infections to more serious infections such as pneumonia which can lead to death. 

In addition, the timing for receiving your annual flu shot is something to consider.  It is ideal to receive the immunization before the virus starts to spread in your community.  Your body takes around 14 days to develop the proper immune response which will provide protection against contracting the influenza virus.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving the flu immunization by the end of October.  However, it can still provide crucial protection if you get it at a later date.  The most important thing is to get the flu immunization every year, to not only protect yourself, but your loved ones as well. Three vaccines are preferentially recommended for adults 65 years and older this flu season. The preferred vaccines for this age group include Fluzone® High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok® Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine, and Fluad® Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. However, if one of these vaccines is not available at the time of administration, a standard-dose flu vaccine is still recommended.

Pneumococcal Immunizations

There are two kinds of vaccines (pneumococcal conjugate and pneumococcal polysaccharide) used to help prevent many types of pneumonia, which is an infection of the lungs. Over 250,000 people are hospitalized every year in the United States due to pneumonia and around 50,000 people die from it.  While adults are most affected by the condition, patients with chronic medical conditions, smokers, and those 65 years or older, are more likely to contract pneumonia. 

Currently the CDC recommends that all patients 65 years and older that have not previously received a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine receive either Vaxneuvance® or Prevnar20®.  Patients that have previously received Prevnar13® or that receive Vaxneuvance® should receive Pneumovax23® one year after the first dose unless they have an immunocompromising condition that warrants earlier vaccination. Patients should talk with their Lewis Drug pharmacist or other health care provider to see if they are up-to-date on these immunizations. 

Shingles Immunization

It is estimated that one million Americans get shingles each year, meaning that out of every three Americans, about one will develop shingles at some point.  While the risk increases with age, anyone who has had chickenpox, can get shingles.  Many individuals born before 1980 have had shingles, even if they do not remember.  Those who contract shingles typically develop a rash and/or blisters located on one side of their body.  Usually these blisters scab in seven to ten days and clear up in two to four weeks.  However, about 10% of patients with shingles will experience nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia) that lasts for months after the rash has resolved.  Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles, but the condition can also lead to other serious complications, including blindness. 

Shingrix® is the immunization routinely recommended in patients who are 50 or older. Adults 18-49 years old who are at an increased risk of shingles due to immunodeficiency or immunosuppression caused by disease or therapies may also be eligible to receive this vaccine. It provides protection from both shingles and postherpetic neuralgia and is more than 90% effective.  Because you can get shingles more than once, it is still recommended to get the immunization even if you have already suffered from shingles.  This immunization is given in two doses that are separated by two to six months.  It is still recommended to administer Shingrix® in patients who received the previous shingles vaccine, Zostavax®.  For Medicare patients, Shingrix® Is covered by Medicare Part D at their local pharmacy. 

Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Whooping Cough Immunization

Vaccination against diphtheria and tetanus is recommended for everyone. The formulation recommended depends on the age of the individual receiving the vaccine. Adults usually receive a Td vaccine. Some formulations of vaccine against diphtheria and tetanus also protect against pertussis (Tdap). Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a disease that is very contagious.  It causes an uncontrollable cough which makes breathing difficult and often causes a “whooping” sound.  As with many other conditions, immunizations are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones.  All adults who have not received a dose of Tdap should get this vaccination. It can affect people of all ages and can be especially serious and even deadly in babies less than one year old. After receiving Tdap, you should get either a Td or Tdap shot every 10 years for continued protection.

References

10 reasons to get vaccinated. National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. (2022, August 24). Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.nfid.org/immunizat... 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, January 22). Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough vaccination: What you should know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/v... 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, May 2). Reasons for adults to be vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/a... 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, August 23). Frequently asked influenza (flu) questions: 2022-2023 season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season... 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, January 24). Pneumococcal vaccination: What everyone should know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/v... 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, May 24). Shingles vaccination: What everyone should know. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/v... 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Stay up to date with covid-19 vaccines including boosters. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved September 5, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronaviru... 

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