Shots for safety
As you get older, your doctor may recommend vaccinations to help prevent certain illnesses and to keep you healthy. Talk with your doctor about which of the following shots you need. And, make sure to protect yourself by keeping your vaccinations up to date. Here are suggestions from the National Institute on Aging.
Flu, short for influenza, is a virus that can cause fever, chills, sore throat, stuffy nose, headache and muscle aches. Flu is very serious when it gets in your lungs. The flu is easy to pass from person to person. The virus also changes over time, which means you can get it over and over again. That’s why most people should get the flu shot each year. Get your shot between September and November. Then, you may be protected when the winter flu season starts.
Pneumococcal disease is a serious infection that spreads from person to person by air. It often causes pneumonia in the lungs, and it can affect other parts of the body. Most people age 65 and older should get a pneumococcal shot to help prevent getting the disease. It’s generally safe and can be given at the same time as the flu shot.
Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust, and manure. It enters the body through cuts in the skin. Diphtheria is also caused by bacteria. It is a serious illness that can affect the tonsils, throat, nose or skin. It can spread from person to person. Both tetanus and diphtheria can lead to death. Getting a shot is the best way to keep from getting tetanus and diphtheria. Most people get their first shots as children. For adults, a booster shot every 10 years will keep you protected.
Shingles is caused by the same virus as chickenpox. If you had chickenpox, the virus is still in your body. It could become active again and cause shingles. Shingles affects the nerves. Common symptoms include burning, shooting pain, tingling and/or itching, as well as a rash and fluid-filled blisters. Even when the rash disappears, the pain can stay.
Common side effects for all these shots are mild and include pain, swelling or redness where the shot was given. Before getting any vaccine, make sure it’s safe for you. Talk with your doctor about your health history, including past illnesses and treatments, as well as any allergies. It’s a good idea to keep your own shot record, listing the types and dates of your shots, along with any side effects or problems.