Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A Better Shot At Better Health: Are You Up-to-Date With Your Vaccinations?

What vaccines should you be getting and when? 

No matter your age, vaccines are an essential tool for maintaining good health and a key defense against serious illness. While a vaccine for COVID-19 has not been found, other types of vaccinations should be updated.

However, the number of adults who are up to date with their vaccines is low, according to the most recent National Immunization Survey: 

  • Less than half (40 percent) had a flu shot. 
  • Only 49 percent are protected against tetanus.
  • Uptake for the pneumococcal vaccine is just 20 percent for adults with a medical condition and 33 percent for those 65 years and older. 

There’s room for improvement and it’s never too late to get yourself up to date. In fact, vaccines become even more important as we get older because parts of our immune system become weaker, putting us at higher risk for serious complications from common infections. 

Take charge of your vaccines to protect your health. Start by talking to your healthcare providers – doctor, public health nurse and pharmacist (most provinces allow pharmacists to administer a wide number of vaccines) – to ensure you’re up to date with the recommended vaccines. These include:

•Influenza (flu): Protects against serious lung infection that commonly causes hospitalization and even death.

•Pneumococcus: Protects against pneumonia and serious infections, such as meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), blood infection or sepsis, all of which can be fatal.

•Shingles (herpes zoster): Protects against the reactivation of the chicken pox virus in your body. Shingles is a very painful rash that can lead to chronic pain. The lifetime risk of herpes zoster is around one in three and is more prevalent among those age 50+.

•Tetanus/diphtheria: Protects against two potentially life-threatening bacterial diseases. Tetanus, which is also called lockjaw, is an infection caused by bacteria commonly found in soil, dust and animal feces: The bacteria can enter your body through an open cut. Diphtheria is an infection caused by bacteria that can be transmitted from person to person and usually affects the nose and throat.

•Travel vaccines: When it’s safe to travel outside of Canada again, it’s important to note a higher risk of common diseases that you can get from eating or drinking contaminated food or beverages. Even a simple mosquito bite can increase your risk of infection. Talk to your healthcare providers well in advance of any international trips. 

 Make it a habit to ask every year if you’re a candidate for any of the key adult vaccines. Tracking varies across the country. In some provinces, information is stored in an electronic database, so all healthcare professionals can see what you’ve received. In other provinces, you are given a card to record your own vaccines. 

I recommend the CANImmunize app (canimmunize.ca), which empowers Canadians to keep their own records and even sends a notification to your smartphone when you, or family members, are due a vaccine. 


For healthy adults, Canadian vaccine experts recommend: 

  • Flu: Every year in the fall
  • Pneumococcus: One dose only for adults 65 years (or older)
  • Shingles: 50 years
  • Tetanus/diphtheria: Once every 10 years

Travel: Most people leave it too late. Ideally, at least three to six months before you leave the country.

Only 49 percent are protected against tetanus. Are you?

Originally published in Issue 02 of YouAreUNLTD Magazine. PG. 15

Must reads

Advancing Technology-Based Solutions To Support Older Adults And Their Caregivers

AGE-WELL NCE Inc. (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) is pleased to announce funding for 22...

Try These Summer Smoothie Recipes With Nutritious Wild Blueberries

Sticking to New Year’s resolutions may be easier with these smoothie recipes from the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. To inspire a vibrant and healthy...

Yes, You Can Live To 100 And Beyond, Say Researchers

I remember when Alida Desroches, the Franco-Ontarian grandmother of my sister-in-law, Darlene, wished me a happy birthday when I was in my 40s. “Live...

Meet A 40+ Driven Runner Who Is Training Smarter And Pushing Harder

When it comes to sports and physical activities, I am a competitive person. It’s just how I’m wired. I grew up in a time...

The Latest from YouAreUNLTD

Advancing Technology-Based Solutions To Support Older Adults And Their Caregivers

AGE-WELL NCE Inc. (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life) is pleased to announce funding for 22...

Try These Summer Smoothie Recipes With Nutritious Wild Blueberries

Sticking to New Year’s resolutions may be easier with these smoothie recipes from the Wild Blueberry Association of North America. To inspire a vibrant and healthy...

Yes, You Can Live To 100 And Beyond, Say Researchers

I remember when Alida Desroches, the Franco-Ontarian grandmother of my sister-in-law, Darlene, wished me a happy birthday when I was in my 40s. “Live...

Meet A 40+ Driven Runner Who Is Training Smarter And Pushing Harder

When it comes to sports and physical activities, I am a competitive person. It’s just how I’m wired. I grew up in a time...

A Healthy Mouth Worth Smiling About: Get The Latest Oral Care Facts

It’s time to sink our teeth into an important topic – oral health care. At one time, getting older meant getting dentures. That is no...