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Senior Life: Tips for Healthy Living - Immunizations for Seniors


August 2021 Senior Living--Immunizations

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and is meant to remind patients of all ages why immunizations are critical to keeping everyone healthy.  Immunization awareness has increased significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.  However, during the pandemic, several patients did not keep up with their immunizations.  Because of this, it is still crucial to check and see which vaccines you may be due for.  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

Although many patients have already had the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 immunizations, there are still many patients who have not.  There also may be some patients who are not considered fully vaccinated as they maybe haven’t received both doses, if necessary.  All COVID-19 immunizations are provided free of charge and are safe and effective at preventing the virus. However, as with any immunization, they do not provide 100% protection and you should still do your best to avoid those who may be infected.  Talk with your Lewis pharmacist today to get vaccinated or have any questions you have answered. Also, visit the following sites for more information: 

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. 

Pneumococcal Immunizations

There are two immunizations 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 receive an immunization called Pneumovax®23.  The other pneumonia immunization, Prevnar13®, is recommended for certain patients, including those who are immunocompromised.  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 recommended in patients who are 50 or older.  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. 

Pertussis (Whooping Cough) Immunization

Pertussis, also known as 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 (also protects against tetanus and diphtheria) 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. 


CDC-National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Influenza (Flu). July 5, 2021. 

CDC-National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Pneumonia. July 5, 2021. 

CDC-National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Shingles (Herpes Zoster). July 5, 2021. 

CDC-National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Pertussis (Whooping Cough July 5, 2021. 

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