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What Vaccinations Should I Be Getting If I Am Over 65?

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

November 20, 2018 — Flu season is upon us. That means lots of people…and their germs – are traveling. So that makes it a good time for us to consider all the vaccinations that are recommended for those of us of a certain age. As we get older, our immune systems tend to weaken, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes that you should get all recommended vaccines, not only to keep yourself healthy, but those around you as well. All information in this article is from the CDC.

The Flu
All adults need a seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine every year. Flu vaccine is especially important for people with chronic health conditions, pregnant women, and older adults. Over 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older.

Types of Flu Shots for People 65 and Older
People 65 years and older should get a flu shot and not a nasal spray vaccine. They can get any flu vaccine approved for use in that age group with no preference for any one vaccine over another. There are regular flu shots that are approved for use in people 65 and older and there also are two vaccines designed specifically for people 65 and older:

High Dose Flu Vaccine
The “high dose vaccine” contains 4 times the amount of antigen as a regular flu shot. It is associated with a stronger immune response following vaccination (higher antibody production). Results from a clinical trial of more than 30,000 participants showed that adults 65 years and older who received the high dose vaccine had 24% fewer influenza infections as compared to those who received the standard dose flu vaccine. The high dose vaccine has been approved for use in the United States since 2009.

Adjuvanted Flu Vaccine
The adjuvanted flu vaccine, Fluad, is made with MF59 adjuvant, an additive that creates a stronger immune response to vaccination. In a Canadian observational study of 282 people aged 65 years and older conducted during the 2011-12 season, Fluad was 63% more effective than regular-dose unadjuvanted flu shots. There are no randomized studies comparing Fluad with Fluzone High-Dose. This vaccine was available for the first time in the United States during the 2016-2017 season. You can learn more about flu vaccines at the CDC links below.

Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. In addition, women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Almost 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime. Your risk of shingles increases as you grow older.
Shingles vaccine, which protects against shingles and the complications from the disease, is recommended for healthy adults 50 years and older.

Shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, often the face or torso. The rash consists of blisters that typically scab over in 7 to 10 days and clears up within 2 to 4 weeks. Some people describe the pain as an intense burning sensation. For some people, the pain can last for months or even years after the rash goes away. This long-lasting pain is called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), and it is the most common complication of shingles. Your risk of getting shingles and PHN increases as you get older.

A new shingles vaccine called Shingrix (recombinant zoster vaccine) was licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. CDC recommends that healthy adults 50 years and older get two doses of Shingrix, 2 to 6 months apart. Shingrix provides strong protection against shingles and PHN. Shingrix is the preferred vaccine, over Zostavax® (zoster vaccine live), a shingles vaccine in use since 2006. It is generally recommended that even if you had the older shingles vaccine you should be re-vaccinated with the new Shingrix vaccine, because it is so much more effective.

Pneumococcal vaccines, which protect against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream are recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions.

Bottom line
Talk with your doctor or other healthcare professional to find out which vaccines are recommended for you at your next medical appointment.

CDC page on Vaccines
More CDC on vaccines

Comments? Have you had all the vaccines that are recommended? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Posted by Admin on November 20th, 2018


  1. Wow, do you receive funding from the crooked CDC? Check with funeral directors, and they’ll tell you how many dead had recently received a USELESS flu vaccine. You don’t get wellness from injecting toxins. Mercury and many of the ingredients are known to stay in the brain, leading to Alzheimers, Parkinson’s, and RA. No, you don’t need to publish this, but you immediately lost all credibility here.

    by Donna Hegelein — November 20, 2018

  2. Thank you for reminding those who have not yet gotten their vaccinations as we head into the winter months and flu season. The flu shot is quick, painless and necessary. But you may need to get your name on a waiting list for the new shingles vaccine Shingrix. My pharmacist recommended getting on more than one waiting list as it is in short supply and can take months to get. Even though I had a shingles shot 2 years ago, this new vaccine is more effective as this article states, and my doctor highly recommended I get it.

    by Jemmie — November 20, 2018

  3. I have been going to my local pharmacy for a month now and they still don’t have the new Shingle shots in stock yet. We also had the older version of Shingle shot and our doctor also recommended the new Shingrix shots. I did not realize it was a two shot regimen.

    by Louise — November 21, 2018

  4. Donna, many people share your fear of immunizations. However, here’s a consequence of what can happen.

    by Ken — November 21, 2018

  5. Donna, Wasting a foolish post for the millions and millions of us who have avoided severe illness by receiving appropriate vaccinations year after year. Ken’s article highlights the results of such foolishness here in NC. Children at risk due to irresponsible parents.

    by RichPB — November 21, 2018

  6. I never even thought about the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine and neither my wife or I knew when we had last been vaccinated against it. But months before our first grandchild was born our daughter called to tell us the hospital wanted us to bring proof of our vaccination if we wanted admitted to the maternity ward. Of course we were vaccinated immediately and it was an easy and good request. Nothing sadder than seeing a sick baby.

    by Drew — November 21, 2018

  7. Louise – I am in the same boat. ( I swear we are sisters lol). Both my doctor and one of my kids (a clinical pharmacist) have been encouraging me to get the new shingles shot, even though I got the “old” one when I turned 60 My kid told me that it was discovered that the effectiveness of the older version of the vaccine wears off. It can be difficult to find a pharmacy with the new vaccine in stock though.

    by Kate — November 22, 2018

  8. Donna, I agree. Let’s bring back small pox and polio and just die in our thirties as God intended. Or be eaten by wolves…

    by Anymouse — November 22, 2018

  9. More than 20 years ago, while teaching middle school, I developed a horrible cough and felt terrible. It took 2 different doctors and 3 weeks for them to diagnose whooping cough because it hadn’t been seen in our rural county in years. Unvaccinated kids spread it to our area. And yes, I was vaccinated as a child but at 40+, my immunity had worn off.

    by Marianne — November 22, 2018

  10. I just got over shingles and it was horrible. Nobody had ever told me to get the vaccine. It was very painful with water blisters on half of my body. I now have to wait a year to get the vaccine. Get the vaccine if you can!

    by Maimi — November 22, 2018

  11. People have become apathetic towards immunizations due to the fact that they have never seen a warehouse full off sick people and dead people being carted off in wagons for mass burials. These things were real in ‘the olden days’. Read about the 1918 flu epidemic that occurred 100 years ago.

    I have friends who won’t get flu shot and it is just nuts. If they get it, they have the potential to make everyone around them sick. Flu is deadly. An epidemic can happen in any year.

    Kate, the Shingrix shot should be available soon! We just need to keep trying to find it!

    Maimi, sorry to hear you had Shingles. A friend of mine had it years ago and he said it war horrible.

    by Louise — November 23, 2018

  12. I know there are lots of Americans who do not believe in science, think the world is flat, and that diseases are due to the curse of the gods. That is why we are seeing the return of measles, mumps, chicken pox, and now a polio like virus is sweeping the USA. As my retirement job, I taught in an inner city school for a few years. It wzs a gateway city, and immigrants arrived daily, mostly from Central America. None of these kids had been vaccinated, but the schools no longer require it because with the flood of new students, it isn’t feasible.

    by Maimi — November 23, 2018

  13. Medical Professionals must be vaccinated whether they like it or not .Before I got a flu shot, I nearly died from the flu which I got on a trip to NYC in March of 1993. One day after getting home I had a slight tickle in my throat at work, which was in a medical office. The next day, I had a huge cough, and a 104 degree temperature-it was that quick. Because I was in the office the day after I got home from my trip, I had infected the staff including my Aunt who was the wife of the doctor (my uncle, the owner of the practice). It was a mess, we all had to take turns being home and being at the office. When I returned back at my job, I felt like I was in a fog and that everything was in slow motion. I lost nearly 15 lbs and had the cough until August of that year. I was very ill and had a recurrence in May. I am not sure if getting the flu shot that year would have helped–it was not enforced at that time. I do know that I never want that experience again.

    by Jennifer — November 24, 2018

  14. Jennifer, very well stated! When most of us get the flu, it may be a mild form that we get through in a week or so. We think of the immunization as helping to avoid that rather minor case. Reality is that it could help us passed your situation — even if we still get a lower level version. Getting immunized actally helps protect against possibly months of unpleasant illness, complications involving worse diseases — and potentially death. Our minds tend to reject those possibilities, but they exist.

    by RichPB — November 24, 2018

  15. A dear friend of mine contracted the flu last March and died. She was 75 and had not gotten a flu shot. She didn’t believe in them. In her case the symptoms began and she died at home within a few days. She, and her doctor, didn’t realize she should have been in the hospital. Don’t take a chance. Get the flu shot and seek medical care if you start to notice symptoms of the flu. You may need to be in the hospital. If you’re 65 or over, you’ll receive a stronger dosage vaccine.

    by Clyde — November 25, 2018

  16. Although I received the older version of the Shingles shot in 2011 I came down with Shingles in July 2018. I was fortunate to be near the University of Florida Hospital at the time and received excellent treatment. My lesions were on my cornea and I was in danger of losing my eye. A very aggressive course of treatment over 2 months got everything under control. As of this date I continue to deal with some minor issues but my vision is fine. My advice: Get the new shot!

    by Mark Phillips — November 28, 2018

  17. If you read the Shingrex shot ingredients , it says there is no mercury in the shot.

    by Pam — December 1, 2018

  18. I wonder if doing a brief article on the availability of Shingrix might be of interest to your readers? Possibly ask for suggestions as to where it is available. The vaccine shortage appears to be nationwide but it might be of interest to people that places like Winn-Dixie (!) could be a resource. I also wonder why the shortage has persisted so long…we’ve been trying to get the second dose since last August.

    Editor’s note: Thanks Pat! We mentioned Shingrix but not about the shortage. Seems like everybody we know is trying to find out where to get the shots (2 required w/i 6 months. On our way right now to Winn-Dixie, which says it has availability of Dose 1. Anyone else have good ideas on where to get it? Let us know in the Comments section below.

    by Pat — December 11, 2018

    Shingrix: We got our second shot at a Winn-Dixie pharmacy in Key West, Florida. Our arms were “slightly” sore, like a bruise, and we did have vague body aches but those were the only side effects. Very mild. We were told that the old shingles vaccine was not that effective but that Shingrix is 97% effective. Trust me, you don’t want to have shingles.

    Flu vaccine: Get it! My husband had a nasty Type A influenza two years ago. When he was admitted to the hospital,the doctors told me that he was critically ill and that only 50% of patients in his condition survive the illness! That was a shocker because it happened so fast. He was hospitalized for 7 days. He too lost a lot of weight and it took him many weeks to recover. The doctor also told me that because he had the pneumonia vaccine, he had a fighting chance. Thank goodness this was true.

    by Patricia Kennedy — December 11, 2018

  20. This issue is in the news. Here is an excellent NPR article that explains why you need the Shingrix vaccine and what you can do about the shortage. Shingrix Vaccine Scramble: How to Cope

    by Admin — December 11, 2018

  21. I went back to the neighborhood pharmacy today to see how the waiting list was going for Shingrix but they said they still have not gotten any in. The link from the comment above from Admin was interesting in pointing out there is a real demand and just have to be patient. I then went to the grocery store where I hadn’t considered ever getting a vaccination of any kind, and the pharmacist there explained they still don’t have any and only get 60 doses a month, but said I should put my name on every pharmacy waiting list in town, which I hadn’t considered. She also pointed out they were offering $10 gift cards if you got your flu shot there and $15 for pneumonia vaccine- wish I would have gone here first.

    by jemmie — January 8, 2019

  22. Jemmie, over the past weekend I took an elderly neighbor (95) to a nearby Safeway pharmacy in Georgetown for her second Shingles vaccine. They called her when it arrived and I took her in the next morning. It took all of ten minutes and I got a bit of shopping in while it was being administered by the pharmacist. The only side effect she had was a sore arm the next day. It was a great solution for her.

    by Jennifer — January 9, 2019

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