Immunization against certain diseases and illnesses is usually associated with young children and young adults. However, as we age, there are changes to the immune system that family caregivers of older adults should be aware of:
Vaccine immunizations not only prevent an individual from contracting an illness, they also prevent illnesses like the flu, or hepatitis A and B from spreading to others.
- The immune system is slower to respond, and takes longer to fight off the flu and other communicable viruses and illnesses.
- These changes result in less resistance to common illnesses such as chicken pox, which may reoccur as shingles as we get older.
Vaccine immunizations not only prevent an individual from contracting an illness, they also prevent illnesses like the flu, or hepatitis A and B from spreading to others who are more vulnerable because of chronic disease and/or frailty.
The importance of immunization in older adults cannot be understated. Speak with your family doctor or healthcare provider about vaccines that are appropriate for you or the person you’re caring for if you’re both over the age of 50.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada recommends the following vaccinations for older adults:
- Tetanus booster every 10 years
- Influenza vaccine: this is given yearly to prevent you from contracting the flu and spreading it to others
- Pneumococcal vaccine for all adults 65 and over
- Herpes zoster (shingles from the chicken pox virus) vaccine: one dose for people ages 60 and older
- Hepatitis A and B vaccines
Immunization for family caregivers is important, but another easy way for caregivers to stay healthy and prevent the spread of communicable diseases to the person you’re taking care of, is to keep good immunization records. This should be done for the person in your care as well as for yourself, and anyone else living in the same home (e.g. your children, spouse, etc.). See our Elizz article on organizing medical information.
Ask your doctor for a yellow booklet in which to keep track of your immunizations or download the CANImmunize App (formerly called ImmunizeCA) to keep track of vaccinations for the whole family. The CANImmunize app will also send you the latest information on vaccinations and disease outbreaks in your area.
If you don’t know what vaccinations you or the person in your care may have already had, try contacting the doctor to see if they have the immunization records on file. The local public health office where you were immunized as a child may also have a registry of the childhood immunizations that were given out in the area.
Some employers, like hospitals or the military, also keep track of immunizations that were given out to employees as part of their requirements for employment.
For more information about vaccines and the importance of immunizations for older adults you can contact the following websites.
Immunize Canada is a Canadian government website that provides all of the information you need to keep up to date on which vaccinations are right for your family, and provides information on the safety of these vaccines.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada also provides downloadable PDFs for the types of vaccines required for those persons over the age of 50.
Elizz registered nurses and registered practical nurses offer immunization and IV therapies to people and family caregivers at home. Please visit our Nursing & Rehabilitation Services page to see the full range of medical needs we can address at home, or call us at 1-855-275-3549 to speak with a Care Solutions Specialist.
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.