As we get older, our immune systems begin to weaken, increasing our overall risk of illness. Naturally, we all want to stay healthy and independent in our later years. Fortunately, there are several free vaccinations available on the NHS for older people.
In today’s post we’ll take a look at three of the vaccinations which you can have.
The most well-known of all vaccinations, the flu jab is available every year and gives you the best chance of avoiding the flu. The flu jab is free for anybody over the age of 18 who is at an increased risk and for everybody over the age of 65.
The flu vaccination won’t stop all flu viruses and the level of protection may vary, so it’s not a 100% guarantee that you’ll be flu-free, but if you do get flu after vaccination it’s likely to be milder and shorter-lived than it would otherwise have been. According to the NHS, the flu jab can also reduce the risk of a stroke.
The best time for you to have the flu jab is during the autumn, preferably between the start of October and early November. You can have your flu jab at your doctor’s surgery or a participating pharmacy.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It is caused by the same virus which causes chickenpox and only those who have had chickenpox can develop shingles. The best way to avoid shingles is to be vaccinated for the condition.
It’s estimated that this vaccination will protect you from the condition for at least five years, and in most cases even longer. The shingles vaccination is given as a single injection into your upper arm and you can have it at any time of the year.
To be eligible you need to be aged 70 or 78-years-old, however there is some leeway. Anybody who was previously eligible but missed their vaccination can still do so until their 80th birthday. Once you’re eligible for the vaccination, your doctor will take the opportunity to vaccinate you when you attend the surgery for general reasons or for your annual flu vaccination.
3. Pneumococcal Vaccine
People over the age of 65 are more at risk of a pneumococcal infection, which is why vaccinations for such an illness are available for free on the NHS. Adults suffering from long-term medical conditions such as heart or kidney disease are also eligible.
These infections are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae and can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia and meningitis. In some severe cases, infections like these can cause permanent brain damage or even death.
The pneumococcal vaccination encourages your body to produce antibodies to fight against the bacteria. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body to neutralise or destroy disease-carrying organisms and toxins.
Older people, over the age of 65, only need a single pneumococcal vaccination in their lifetime. People with a long-term medical condition may need just a single one-off pneumococcal vaccination or five-yearly vaccination, depending on their underlying health problem. The pneumococcal vaccine is thought to be around 50-70% effective at preventing pneumococcal disease.
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