It’s Vaccine Time: For Seniors And For Your Children and Grandchildren
~ By Eileen Doherty ~
The arrival of colder weather turns our attention not only to the beauty of changing seasons, but also to the annual threat of life-threatening conditions that affect older Coloradans each year – conditions that can be prevented easily. That’s why we urge seniors to couple their October traditions of leaf raking and pumpkin carving with vaccinations for pneumonia and related diseases – and to encourage their children and grandchildren to protect themselves as well.
While the severe danger from pneumonia is well-known to seniors, the wide availability of inexpensive, safe and effective vaccines available today is less known. For example, it’s vital that older Coloradans get vaccinated for streptococcus pneumonia the bacterium that is responsible for almost a million cases of pneumonia each year that result in more than 50,000 deaths annually. That’s the equivalent of a 727 passenger jet crashing each and every day.
In addition, vaccines are also available to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and the invasive conditions (meningitis, septicemia) that may follow it. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults 65 years of age and older receive both pneumococcal vaccines.
But we can’t stop with just senior Coloradans.
The deep concern is that the vast majority of Coloradans who should be immunized pneumococcal disease are not. The CDC reports that only 21 percent of adults aged 19 to 64 with high-risk conditions such as diabetes, or heart or lung disease were immunized in 2015. We know that these high-risk men and women have a three- to six-times higher risk of developing pneumonia or other pneumococcal disease.
We are truly fortunate to be living at a time when medical science is so rapidly expanding the number of medicines and therapies that extend lives and preserve quality of life. The key is to get educated about the vaccines that can save your life and the lives of your family and friends.
Make it a fall family tradition. Whether you are older than 65, or have an adult child with a chronic respiratory problem like asthma or have a young grandchild, now is the time to talk to your healthcare provider about vaccination for pneumonia.
It’s that easy. And it’s that important!
Eileen Doherty is executive director of the Colorado Gerontological Society, a statewide organization serving Colorado’s senior population and aging professionals. For more information, visit www.senioranswers.org