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Grandparents, Get Those Vaccines

From the flu shot to the pneumonia vaccine seniors have a lot of good reasons to stay up-to-date on their immunizations.

If you’re a grandparent, you’re always excited for a visit with the grandkids. But if you’re not taking care of your own health, you may be putting them in harm’s way. So, here’s a list of vaccines for seniors that also protect your little loved ones from illnesses such as COVID-19, flu, pneumonia and (especially) whooping cough.  

Why getting vaccinesshould be a priority 
You may not even know you have an illness that could be extremely dangerous to your grandkids—as can be the case with whooping cough, also known as pertussis. Whooping cough is usually not a serious illness for adults, who tend to experience an irritating cough for a few months. But it can be deadly for children under age 2, as it may cause severe breathing difficulties. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s important for anyone who’s going to be around babies to get the Tdap vaccine for whooping cough. (Tdap is a vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.) It’s especially important to get if you’ll be close to infants younger than 6 months old, because children of this age are too young to be fully protected by childhood vaccinations.  

Schedule an appointment with your doctor to talk about getting the Tdap vaccine. To give the vaccine time to work, you’ll need to get it at least two weeks before you visit baby. 

Tdap is not the only shot you may need. Check out these guidelines for other essential vaccinations for older adults that can help protect you—and your grandkids, as well. 

Shingles: If you’re 50 years old, you should get vaccinated for shingles, a painful skin rash that causes extreme, debilitating pain and develops in people who have previously had chickenpox. According to the CDC, if you have active shingles, you can pass the virus to children via skin contact. Instead of shingles, though, they’ll get chickenpox. 

Flu: It’s not just grandparents and grandkids who need to get vaccinated for influenza—everyone should get a seasonal flu shot.  The CDC recommends the flu shot for seniors and everyone 6 months or older every year. So, reduce your chance of getting it and spreading it—especially to those unprotected grandkids under 6 months and older children who could develop complications. 

Pneumonia: According to the CDC, pneumonia, an infection of the lungs causing difficulty breathing and coughing, is the most common cause of death worldwide for children under age 5. But vaccines—particularly the pneumococcal vaccine—can help prevent it. The CDC recommends that adults 65 or older and children under the age of 2 get vaccinated, because people in both age groups are especially susceptible to it. 

And, in the age of COVID-19, it’s crucial for you to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as soon as you are able. COVID-19 is known to be riskier for older adults, but it can lead to serious complications in young children, as well, so it’s best to get protected when you can. 

Medically reviewed in June 2019. Updated in March 2021. 

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