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August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM). Ethnic minority populations have considerably lower rates of flu vaccinations than the general population, and close to 5,000 African-Americans and 2,000 Hispanics die each year due to influenza and pneumonia-related complications. That’s why when it comes to keeping your family, healthy and protected from disease, it’s important to remember that immunizations aren’t just for infants and children. People of all ages need vaccines. This includes adults and seniors, even if they received immunizations earlier in life.
Your household may be home to a variety of generations, from babies to baby boomers and beyond. Nearly 60.6 million Americans live in a multigenerational household. This is defined as a home with two or more adult generations, or one that includes both grandparents and grandchildren. In 2016, it was estimated that nationwide, 2.7 million grandparents were raising their grandchildren.
Immunization is especially important in multigenerational homes where vaccines provide community or “herd” immunity. This is where a critical portion of a community is immunized and protected against a contagious disease, thereby protecting others who may not be eligible for certain vaccines, such as infants, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals.
Some individuals think that because they received a vaccine as a child it will protect them for the remainder of their lives. However, immunity can decline over time, and as we age we may become more susceptible to common infections, such as the flu and pneumonia. There may also be newer vaccines available that were not around when some adults were younger.
For seniors, there are several recommended vaccines that are covered by Medicare.
What’s recommended for an elderly relative is very different from what is required for a child or a middle-aged adult. How do you know if your family members are current on required vaccinations? Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates immunization requirements and guidelines for:
Protect yourself and your loved ones from disease by making sure your ENTIRE family is up to date on all recommended vaccines.