Vaccination continues to be the most important prevention strategy against infectious diseases, managing to significantly reduce death in older adults. After the age of 60, the aging process begins and brings with it a series of changes that have a direct impact on the well-being and functional status of the person. For example, the body’s Defense System ages, progressively decreasing its effectiveness of acting when exposed to external factors such as infections by viruses, fungi, bacteria, and parasites, which condition a high probability of getting sick or dying, in the worst-case scenario. On this occasion, Dr. Monty Calle, a geriatrician at Clinica Ricardo Palma, gives us more information on the subject.
Why is it important for older adults to comply with their vaccination schedule?
Vaccines prevent and protect the elderly from diseases that can be serious and fatal. Even if they have always received all their shots on time, it is important to get the booster shots again, as the protection of some may wane over time.
National vaccination schedule for adults over 60 years of age according to the Ministry of Health (MINSA)
The scheme includes the following vaccines:
- COVID-19. It can prevent you from contracting COVID-19 or developing severe illnesses from the infection. According to Minsa’s fourth and third dose application protocol for vaccination against COVID-19, the fourth dose must be with the messenger RNA vaccine, that is, Pfizer or Moderna.
- Flu (influenza). To prevent the flu, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends receiving an annual dose. Well, the flu can cause serious complications in older adults.
- Vaccine against pneumonia. it is recommended to get both pneumococcal vaccines available for adults 65 years and older. Pneumococcal diseases cause infections, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.
The following vaccines are not considered in the National Vaccination Scheme. However, they should be included due to their high capacity to inflict damage on our older adults.
- Hepatitis B. Recommended for those with risk factors. A scheme of 3 doses is used, the first and the second separated by a time greater than or equal to 4 weeks and the third from 4 to 6 months after the second.
- Herpes zoster (shingles). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the Shingrix vaccine for healthy adults age 50 and older. It should be administered in two doses, placing the second dose 2 to 6 months after the first.
- Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. A single dose of this vaccine provides protection against lockjaw or contractions (tetanus), pertussis, and diphtheria, which can cause respiratory problems in the elderly. It is recommended to receive a booster every 10 years.
- Polysaccharide meningococcal vaccine for serogroups A, C, Y, and W-135. A single dose could be applied to older adults at risk of meningococcal disease or exposure to community outbreaks.
- Meningococcal B vaccine. A single dose could be given to older adults at risk of meningococcal disease or exposed to community outbreaks.
- Chickenpox. Older adults should receive 2 doses at least 28 days apart. A person who previously received only one dose of chickenpox vaccine should receive a second dose to complete the series.
Dr. Monty Calle
Geriatrician at Clínica Ricardo Palma