Article by David Kohll, Pharm.D. & Tamehene Massaba, Pharm.D. Candidate 2021.
How can you have excellent health? Exercise, and keeping your mind active. These two tasks can be challenging depending on your living situation and health, but you have to do it. What’s the easiest thing you can do to maintain excellent health? Get vaccinated!
Today with COVID-19
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the death rate in the United States for COVID-19 is over 170 thousand as illustrated by the chart below.
COVID-19 related deaths by dates in United State by Hopkins University
The center of disease control or CDC has confirmed the disparity of COVID-19 infection across age groups in our community. Older adults and especially, the frail older adults typically suffer elevated hospitalization rate and even death (Table 1) from COVID-19, leading to increased demand for healthcare resources and higher healthcare costs. This vulnerable population of adults over 65 years of age is growing so fast and may double by 2050.
From the CDC, the increased complications related to COVID-19 infection correlate with comorbidity in older adult patients. In the effort to reduce the rates of commodities in that age group, some preventable measures must be implemented. Many countries are going to face health, economic and social burden deriving from vaccine-preventable diseases such as herpes zoster, influenza, and pneumonia (Privor-Dumm, Vasudevan, Kobayashi, & Gupta, 2020). Preventive medicine, including vaccination, can potentially play a major role in preserving the health and independence of older adults. However, this potential of widespread vaccination is rarely realized. Some authors had discovered four new ways: disease prevention-focused; health security-focused; evolving adult focus; and, child-focused and cost-sensitive. The best way for countries to overcome health complications during this COVID-19 time will be to apply disease prevention-focused and health security. Any country that has prioritized adult immunization programs during the COVID-19 will perform better in protecting this vulnerable population (Privor-Dumm, Vasudevan, Kobayashi, & Gupta, 2020).
Influenza (Flu) vaccine
Flu vaccination is especially important for people 65 years and older because they are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu. An American study showed that from 2012 to 2015, flu vaccination among adults reduced the risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu by 82 percent. Also, showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients were 59 percent less likely to be admitted to the ICU than those who had not been vaccinated. Among adults in the ICU with flu, vaccinated patients on average spent 4 fewer days in the hospital than those who were not vaccinated. Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are used to make the vaccine.
Pneumococcal bacteria leads to serious pneumonia which kills many older people and children. However, the vaccine can prevent the disease. Recent data from CDC showed that at least 1 dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine protects 75 in 100 adults 65 years or older against invasive pneumococcal disease, and 45 in 100 adults 65 years or older against pneumococcal pneumonia, and finally, between 50 to 85 in 100 healthy adults against invasive pneumococcal disease. These data demonstrated the need of adults of age 50 and older to get vaccinated especially during the COVID-19 period to protect oneself.
Herpes Zoster (Shingle) Vaccine
Shingles causes severe pain to the older population. It may lead to other serious complications involving the eye, including blindness. Very rarely, it can also lead to pneumonia, hearing problems, brain inflammation (encephalitis) or death. Shingles vaccine can help prevent shingles and the complications from the disease. Newer adjuvants in the shingle vaccine have been developed to target specific components of the body’s immune response, so that protection against disease is stronger and lasts longer.
Why does it matter now to choose vaccination against Flu, Shingles and Pneumococcal?
Adult immunization alone is an important issue, but COVID-19 has dramatically prioritized the needs of older adults’ vaccination. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted older adults in both morbidity and mortality. In addition to the increase mortality in older adults, there are also downstream effects including persistent cardiovascular, neurologic, lung morbidity and substantial decrease in quality of life among COVID-19 survivors.
The existing vaccination strategies such as pneumococcal, flu and Shingle vaccines to protect older adults against both existing and emerging threats from the COVID-19 virus will be more needed and may help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in this vulnerable population.
With the hope of an effective vaccine against COVID-19 in the months to come, it’s even more important for older adults to get vaccinated and be up to date with their flu, pneumococcal and shingle vaccines. In this time of needed preventive vaccination, it is worth mentioning that the above vaccines are covered by all insurance companies.
The emphasis of these vaccines may potentially assure better immune response to guard vulnerable population against the growing threat of the COVID-19. Convenience and efficiency in the vaccination process will encourage more people to get vaccinated. There are some pharmacies, such as Kohll’s Rx that will go to senior centers, to your place of business, or to your car in the parking lot to administer vaccinations. Kohll’s also has an online submission process to have the vaccination processed through insurance before you arrive. This results in spending less time in the pharmacy and also shorter waiting time in your car. Kohll’s Rx is dedicated to protect our community and especially of older adults’ group that is more affected by this COVID-19 pandemic.
Be sure the pharmacy you use offers other vaccinations besides flu vaccine, such as Shingles vaccine, pneumococcal vaccine and even travel vaccinations. Pharmacies that offer a wide variety of vaccinations show a true commitment to proper immunization and therefore protection of our vulnerable older adults. In the view of the fast and deadly spread of COVID-19 in our community, a convenient and timely delivery of older adults’ vaccine is most needed.
Can I get the Flu, Shingle and Pneumococcal vaccine at the same visit?
Although expert’s opinion does not advise against the administration of these three vaccines, the CDC general recommendations advise that Shingrix can be administered with any other adult vaccines as long as the Shingrix is given at a different site. The Shingrix vaccine’s injection site might be relatively painful, however it can be alleviated by an application of ice pack at that site.
Shingrix and pneumococcal vaccine may be administered at the same visit if the person is eligible for both. Concomitant administration of influenza vaccine and Shingrix has been studied, and there was no evidence for interference in the immune response to either vaccine or safety concerns (CDC).
Talk to your pharmacist today at one of our convenient locations. The Pharmacists will help you with your immunization records and get vaccinated. Protect yourself, your family, and our community. Be ready for COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available.
Privor-Dumm, L., Vasudevan, P., Kobayashi, K., & Gupta, J. (2020). Archetype analysis of older adult immunization decision-making and implementation in 34 countries. Vaccine, 38(26), 4170–4182. https://doi-org.library1.unmc.edu/10.1016/j.vaccine.2020.04.027
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Vaccines and preventable diseases. [Online forum] Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/shingles/hcp/shingrix/administering-vaccine.html#:~:text=Shingrix%20and%20pneumococcal%20vaccine%20may,be%20administered%20concomitantly%20with%20Shingrix.