A Shot in the Arm – Immunizations Protect Seniors & Family Caregivers

August marks our celebration of Immunization Awareness Month to get us all ready to enter this winter’s flu season prepared!

We know how important and life-saving immunizations can be for every member of the family but especially our senior loved ones who may be vulnerable to contracting illnesses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases sponsors Immunization Awareness Month in order to get the word out that it is time to get immunized not only for seasonal flu but other important vaccines as well.

Immunizations help prevent diseases. Getting our seniors properly immunized will help protect their health.

Immunizations for Seniors

Here is a reference for you to track which vaccinations are typically important to those over 50 years. Check with your senior loved one’s doctor to see what has been given and what is needed.

Vaccine    Schedule for Those Over 50 
Influenza (seasonal flu) Every year
Shingles (herpes zoster) Once dose over for 60 years
Pneumococcal PCV13 Once dose
Pneumococcal PPSV23 One or two doses; One more dose after 65
Chicken pox Two doses
Hepatitis B Three doses
Hepatitis A Two doses
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis Td/Tdap initial dose; repeat every ten years
MMR Talk with your doctor


The CDC website has an interesting interactive quiz to determine exactly which immunizations you need, no matter your age that you might like to do.

Once your senior has had their vaccines, it would be a good idea to keep a shot record so that you can inform all healthcare providers of the dates given. Here is one you might like to use from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

Seniors & Seasonal Flu

For seasonal flu, there is another option for seniors over 65. Fluzone High Dose is a flu vaccine that contains four times the amount of vaccine compared to regular flu shots. It is designed to give the person who receives it a greater immune response to protect them from the most flu strains during the flu season.

This particular flu shot could be more beneficial for our seniors because as we age our immune defenses can become weaker putting us at greater risk for contracting flu. Talk to your senior’s doctor to see if this is a good choice for them.

The time of year seasonal flu is a concern is typically from October to May. You can be immunized for the flu as soon as the vaccine is available but try to get it done by October. If you don’t get one by then, please get one as soon as you can to protect your senior from illness and potential hospitalization (or worse).

Caregivers are Not Immune

As a family caregiver it is equally (maybe more) important for you to get your immunizations on schedule as well. If you ignore your health and contract a preventable disease, you won’t be able to continue to care for your senior loved one as you are now.

Get your shots when your seniors get theirs!

Find the nearest location that will give you and your senior their vaccines quickly and easily using this locator. Don’t forget, there are many local drug stores and senior centers that are providing flu shots this season some require no appointments. Check out the places in the community that give you and your senior convenient access in addition to the doctor office.

You can support your senior loved one by keeping track of their vaccines and knowing what they need at what age. Making the necessary appointments, taking them to the doctor or clinic, and keeping the records of their vaccinations are things you can do to help prevent life threatening situations.

Staying Healthy – Habits that Can Help Your Senior and You!

One of the best ways to prevent illness is to get vaccinations when they are due. In addition to getting your shots, there are things that we can all do to stay healthy throughout the year.

  • Wash your hands and encourage your seniors to do so regularly and often! You can use soap and water or alcohol based lotions. Don’t forget to sing the birthday song to be sure you are getting enough friction going to kill germs.
  • Cover your cough – whether you use a tissue or your sleeve, prevent passing airborne germs from infecting others. It is best not to cough or sneeze into the palm of your hand but if you do be sure to wash thoroughly.
  • Stay away from people who are sick – don’t visit or allow visitors when people are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your nose, eyes and mouth to prevent spreading germs to your hands – this is often an unconscious habit so it takes some attention to avoid it!
  • Keep surfaces clean especially if someone in the household is sick – don’t forget commonly used items like the TV remote, telephone, door knobs or surfaces our senior’s touch to help them walk.
  • Get plenty of sleep!
  • Drink enough fluids – your senior needs a bit more fluids if they are sick.
  • Eat a variety of foods to get all the nutrition you and your seniors need – keep your senior’s immune system strong with good nutrition all year long!

Sometimes we all, including our seniors, need a reminder about the importance of preventing the spread of germs.

We hope that you and your seniors are able to avoid the flu this season and that you all get the vaccines that are recommended for you!