You're never too old for some vaccines

Think adults don't need vaccinations? Guess again. Even healthy older adults are at increased risk for serious infectious diseases, because the body's immune system naturally weakens with age. Vaccines work by teaching the body's immune system to recognize and defend against harmful viruses or bacteria before getting an infection, and reduce the chance of getting certain infectious diseases. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 adults in the United States die from vaccine-preventable diseases or their complications each year.

During August's National Immunization Awareness Month, the American Lung Association reminds adults that vaccine recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee include vaccines for potentially serious lung diseases like pneumococcal pneumonia and influenza. In addition, older adults and those with weakened immune systems or certain chronic health conditions – like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – are especially vulnerable to infectious disease. In fact, for adults 65 and older living with COPD, the risk for contracting pneumococcal pneumonia is 7.7 times higher than their healthy counterparts, and those with asthma are at 5.9 times greater risk.

Health officials recommend that everyone over the age of six months receive the flu vaccine every year. And all adults 65 or older should receive pneumococcal pneumonia vaccination. Adults with risk factors for pneumococcal pneumonia are encouraged to take an online risk assessment at www.Lung.org/who-pneu.

This year, don't take your health for granted. Preventive health measures can save lives.

Bob Leek

American Lung Association

Williamsburg

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