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COVID-19, seniors and immunizations

Immunizations are not just for babies and children

Immunizations conjure up thoughts of childhood.

It was an annual event in school and one that many students preferred to do without.  

Speculation in the media has suggested if we only had herd immunity, we could forget COVID-19 and its precautions and return to ‘normal’ life.  

Well, we have herd immunity to our ‘childhood’ illness because of the immunization programs. What about seniors and immunizations anyway? Do we need them? Why? And why do we have to pay for some of them?

1. Personal health

Immunizations are not just for babies and children. They can prevent seniors becoming frail, suffering from chronic illnesses, and help us maintain our independency.  Especially of note are:

•  Annual flu immunizations – while it is true that some years the vaccine is more effective than other years, we still benefit from their positive effects.  They can help prevent pneumonia, which can be a COVID-19 complication.  

• Pneumonia immunizations - check with your public health nurses, physicians, or pharmacists for information.  Ask for additional information, such as boosters, etc. There may be a cost to some vaccines.  

• Shingles immunizations - this immunization, usually for those who had chickenpox as children, can prevent many chronic debilitating illnesses:  nerve pain which varies in severity, how long the pain lasts, can prevent some people from daily activities such as walking, can affect vision, hearing, etc.  

There is a cost to this vaccine, but there is a cost to some of the disease effects as well.  Check with your health-care professional for their advice.

• Hepatitis A or Twinrix– these may prevent liver damage and is often used by travellers.  

Ask your health-care provider for further information.  

COVID-19 may cause organ failures from which some people succumb.

We can maintain healthy hearts and lungs by appropriate diets, exercise and stopping smoking.  

Consulting our physicians, public health/home care nurses and pharmacists etc. can help us develop programs to maintain our health.   

Our goal these days is to prevent COVID-19 and if possible its complications.                              

2. Utilization of health personnel & supplies

Another benefit from immunizations during this pandemic is to decrease visits to clinics and emergency departments to check out our various flu-like symptoms.  

We want to ensure our physicians, nurses and other caregivers do not contract any illness from us. Their health is important to everyone.  

However, all of us must always call 811, for information if we are not sure what we are experiencing and call 911 if we even think it might be a heart attack or stroke or any other serious illness.  

Never delay seeking emergency aid.  We are fortunate to live in a community with an active treatment hospital, excellent paramedics and emergency services.  

Please take every opportunity to thank these professionals for their dedication.   

Submitted on behalf of the Olds Age-Friendly Committee.