Ask the Expert: Recommended Vaccines for Seniors

For people 65 years old and older, we recommend two vaccines. The first is the high-dose seasonal flu shot. Except in rare cases, everyone age 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine. Patients age 65 and up should get the high-dose shot. It has four times the amount of antigen, the ingredient that starts your immune system making antibodies, as the regular shot.

Older people who get influenza are at risk for serious complications from the disease, which could lead to hospitalization or death. Because of this, it is much better for seniors to receive a vaccination before the worst of the flu season hits.

This will be our second year giving the high-dose shot. Last year we saw 40 percent fewer cases of flu among seniors who had the high-dose vaccine compared to those who opted for the regular dose.

The second shot we recommend is the Prevnar-13 vaccination, which protects against 13 strains of streptococcal pneumonia. Because older people tend to have more conditions that weaken their immune system—such as diabetes, asthma or COPD—protection against strep bacteria is very important. Just as with influenza, seniors who develop pneumonia are at greater risk for complications, such as blood infections or meningitis.

We have a good supply of both vaccines and encourage everyone to come in for your shots. We can administer the shots on a walk-in basis—no appointment is needed—and the cost is covered by most insurance.

agrawalBy Meetu Agrawal, MD, a primary care physician at AAMG Largo Primary Care. To reach her, call 301-925-7610.

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