August is National Immunization Awareness Month! The purpose of National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is to highlight the importance of vaccinations for people of all ages. While there is great importance to having infants and children receive the necessary vaccinations, it is also important for older adults to stay up to date with their vaccinations.
The immune system tends to weaken over time, leaving older adults at heightened risk for certain diseases. For example, the risk of shingles increases as one ages, with one third of adults experiencing shingles in their lifetime. Individuals over age 65 also represent the majority of flu-related hospitalizations each year.
Additionally, immunity from vaccines that someone receives as a child may wear off over time, meaning additional doses are needed to keep people protected later in life. There are some vaccines that are recommended only for adults, such as the vaccination for shingles. There are also newer vaccines that are now available that may not have been given when some seniors were younger.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a guide to recommended vaccinations by age. The guide breaks down the vaccinations that individuals in different age ranges should receive, as well as how frequently they should receive them. It is important to note, however, that some vaccines are not advisable for individuals with certain health conditions, such as life-threatening allergies or diseases that weaken the immune system. It is important that individuals talk to their doctors about their immunization history and any medical issues.
As part of NIAM, the CDC shares several online resources including an interactive vaccine guide, a vaccine assessment tool for adults, and toolkits for healthcare providers. These resources are free to use and can help community members to identify topics to discuss with their doctors and to take control of their health.
To learn more about NIAM and the CDC’s vaccination resources, visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/events/niam/index.html.