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by Kay Scroggins, RN

If you are getting older (65 years and older),  it is time to make sure you are getting the vaccines you need to prevent some of the illnesses that come around every year or are spread through contact with people having the illness, like influenza (flu) and pneumonia.

When we age our immune system (which fights infections) is weaker.  It continues to weaken with age.  If you end up with the flu or pneumonia there is a greater risk of serious complications compared to young, healthy adults.  If you do get symptoms of flu (fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue)  or pneumonia (cough, fever, sweating and shaking chills, shortness of breath, rapid, shallow breathing, sharp or stabbing chest pain that gets worse when you breathe deeply or cough) call your doctor right away.

The severity of flu seasons varies from year to year; however, people 65 years and older bear the burden of severe flu disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

A couple of statistics supporting the CDC’s statement about the vulnerability of people 65 and older include:

  • 70-90% of seasonal flu-related deaths have occurred in this age group
  • 50-70% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations also have occurred among this same age group.

 It has been proven over and over that flu vaccines reduce flu illness and more serious outcomes that may result in hospitalization and death.  It is very important to get a flu shot every October, but if the flu is still around in January or later, it is not too late to get the vaccine to help you stay healthier.

People 65 and older should also be up to date with pneumococcal vaccination.  This vaccine helps to protect against pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections per the CDC.  Pneumococcal pneumonia can cause death.  It is a serious disease.  Your healthcare provider can provide this vaccine to you, so be sure to have a discussion about the importance of getting the pneumonia vaccine.

Other preventive actions you can take to be healthy and prevent the spread of illnesses are frequent, thorough handwashing, covering your face with your arm (not hand) when you sneeze and/or cough and avoiding people who are sick, if possible.

Kay Scroggins, RN, is President/CEO of Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc. (CTT). CTT is a woman-owned local company, founded in 2001. This multi-therapeutic site conducts clinical trials across areas important to our community such as diabetes, fatty liver, vaccines and Alzheimer’s Disease. You can learn more about participating in our trials, such as our currently enrolling vaccine trails, by visiting SAresearch.com or calling 210-949-0122.