Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Doctor with vaccine
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With summer now behind us, it’s time to prepare for what could be a difficult fall and winter. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging and flu season underway, staying healthy will be more challenging than in most years.

If you are 50 or older, you are especially vulnerable to such health threats. That makes it extra important to consider scheduling vaccinations that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

The aging process weakens our immune systems, putting us at greater risk for several types of disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For this reason, the CDC recommends adults 50 or older schedule the following vaccines.

Just talk to your doctor before getting any vaccine, as there are some exceptions to CDC recommendations.

Flu shot

The CDC recommends that all adults get a flu shot, but this is particularly important for older adults and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. These people have a greater risk of developing serious complications if they catch influenza.

While the flu might seem like a minor nuisance, it can be deadly. As the CDC reminds us:

“Every year in the United States, millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from the flu.”

And this year, getting the flu shot is even more important. For more, check out “6 Reasons You Really Should Get a Flu Shot This Year.”

Shingles vaccine

Around 1 in 3 Americans will develop shingles at some point, and the risk of getting the painful rash grows with age, according to the CDC.

This painful condition can cause symptoms that last months or years. It can even cause permanent blindness, as we report in “This Cause of Blindness Is Soaring Among Seniors.”

A newer vaccine, called Shingrix, is more than 90% effective in preventing shingles in older people, according to the CDC. But the vaccine has been running short for years.

So, call your health care provider now to set up an appointment for the two-dose vaccine. Or, use the CDC’s Vaccine Finder tool or the Shingrix locator tool from GSK, the vaccine’s manufacturer.

Tdap or Td vaccine

The Tdap vaccine protects you against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Chances are good that you have had this vaccine in the past. But if you haven’t, the CDC urges you to get it.

The Td vaccine only protects against tetanus and diphtheria, and requires a booster every 10 years.

Pneumococcal vaccines

Pneumococcal vaccines help protect against pneumococcal disease, meaning infections caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria.

The CDC recommends all adults age 65 or older get both types of pneumococcal vaccines that are available in the U.S.: pneumococcal conjugate and pneumococcal polysaccharide.

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