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How to Stay Informed of Your Loved One’s Immunization Options

Immunizations are critical in guarding against disease, especially in older adults who may have a chronic illness and a compromised immune system. In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month this August, we wanted to give you some tips on how to stay informed of your loved one’s immunization options in hospice care in San Mateo and elsewhere.

It’s important to note that adults need vaccines, too. They’re not just for children! Let’s go over the recommended vaccines for those over 65, as directed by the CDC.

Recommended Vaccines For Adults Over 65

The first step in protecting your older loved one from further illness is to be aware of the immunizations they need. Per the CDC, getting vaccinated is one of the safest ways to protect your health. Vaccines can help you prevent getting and spreading serious illnesses and diseases that could result in missed work, poor health, high medical bills, and the inability to care for family.

Older adults should stay up to date on routine vaccines such as influenza and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough), among others. Forgetting to keep up with vaccines is very common. However, as we age, our immune systems weaken, making us more vulnerable to certain diseases. All adults over the age of 65 are recommended to get the following:

  • COVID-19
  • Flu
  • Pneumoccal
  • Shingles
  • Tdap or Td

You may also require other vaccines based on factors such as compromised immunity, chronic illness, and advancing age. Those include RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

Flu Vaccine

Everyone over the age of six months should get an annual flu vaccine; however, that protection can wane over time, particularly in older adults. Flu vaccines are especially important in those who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. It’s advised that people get the flu vaccine in October, at the start of flu season. It takes two weeks for the vaccine to become effective.

For adults over 65, it’s recommended they receive a higher dose flu vaccine or advanced flu vaccine to create a stronger immune response. These vaccines have been found to have more effectiveness than the regular flu vaccine. Medicare pays for the flu vaccine, as do private health insurances.


Pneumococcal disease, a serious infection that can spread from person to person through the air, can result in pneumonia in the lungs. Older adults are at a higher risk of getting sick or dying due to pneumococcal disease. Adults aged 65 and older should receive the pneumococcal vaccine to protect them from serious infection. Visit the CDC’s Pneumococcal Vaccination web page to learn more.


Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are diseases that result from exposure to a certain type of bacteria that in turn leads to serious illness and death.

  • Tetanus (AKA lockjaw) comes from bacteria found in soil, manure, and dust, entering the body through a burn or deep cut.
  • Diphtheria affects the skin, tonsils, throat, or nose, and can spread from person to person.
  • Pertussis (AKA whooping cough) causes violent and uncontrollable coughing fits that make it difficult to breathe. It can also spread from person to person easily.

Getting vaccinated is your best defense against the above illnesses. Most people get vaccinated when they are children, but booster shots are needed throughout the decades to remain properly protected. The CDC says adults should get Tdap boosters every 10 years, for example.


Shingles are caused by the same virus as chickenpox, so if a person had chickenpox as a child, the virus will still be in their body. As you age, the virus has a chance of becoming active again and causing shingles. Shingles, a condition that affects the nerves, have symptoms that include shooting pain, burning, tingling, itching, and rash. It’s recommended that healthy adults over 50 get vaccinated with the shingles two-dose vaccine. Get it even if you’ve already had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine, or even if you’ve already had shingles. Do not get the vaccine if you currently have this condition, are ill, are running a fever, possess a weaken immune system, or have shown an allergic reaction to the shingles vaccine in the past.

Vaccines For Hospice Patients

The goal of hospice care is to provide patients with the highest possible quality of life for as much time as they have left. The two vaccines that can help with this goal include the influenza vaccine and the pneumococcal vaccine. The flu vaccine helps to boost the comfort of the patient as well as prevent the flu from shortening their lives. This vaccine can lower the risk of flu-related complications and death. Patients who have a history of pneumonia may be advised to get the pneumococcal vaccine as well. It is designed to protect them from 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria that can lead to serious infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, and septicemia.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Our staff is dedicated to the total care of the patient, augmenting immunizations with healthy diets, exercise, companionship, and more. Get in touch today at 888-978-1306 to learn more about our home health and hospice services in San Mateo and elsewhere.