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Here Is What to Know About Vaccines for Seniors

Aging is associated with an increase in the risk and severity of infectious diseases. Because of immunosenescence, the weakening of the immune system and progressive decline of adaptive and innate immune responses as we age, illnesses can cause significant mortality and morbidity in elderly persons.1,2 Immunosenescence is also responsible for the reduced efficacy of vaccines in older adults and is why older populations are more susceptible to the flu, pneumonia, and shingles.2

As a group, acute respiratory infections, including influenza and pneumonia, are the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for 56,000 deaths annually. They are also the most common causes of infection-related hospitalization and death resulting from vaccine-preventable infections in people 65 and older.3 Further, influenza, pneumococcal disease, and herpes zoster rank as the top 3 vaccine-preventable infections in terms of economic burden.3

Whether in the clinic, community, or hospital, a pharmacist can be very influential in following the CDC’s recommended immunization practices to administer and document immunizations, educate on the importance of vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases, follow the best practice guidelines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and obtain each individual’s immunization history.4

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