Preventive Vaccines for Elderly Health: Examining the Benefits of Shingles, Pneumonia, and Flu Vaccines

Preventive Vaccines for Shingles, Pneumonia, and Flu: An Essential Measure for Elderly Health

As the fall season begins and Chuseok, a traditional Korean holiday, comes to an end, concerns about our parents’ health become more prevalent. Especially for those with weakened immune systems, finding the right nutritional supplements to support their health can be a top priority. In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to consider effective vaccination as a means to prevent infectious diseases. Fortunately, three vaccines – shingles, pneumonia, and flu – are known to be highly effective in protecting the elderly. This combination of vaccines has even earned the name, ‘the three-type filial piety vaccine set’. To delve into this topic further, we sought the expertise of Professor Soo-yeon Moon, an infectious diseases specialist at Kangdong Kyung Hee University Hospital.

Preventing Shingles: The Importance of Vaccination

Getting vaccinated against shingles does not guarantee 100% protection from infection. However, it significantly reduces the likelihood of developing shingles, and if one does contract the disease, the symptoms are typically less severe. Shingles, caused by the chickenpox virus, manifests in extreme pain accompanied by blisters and rashes. It primarily affects individuals over the age of 60 with weakened immune systems, making vaccination crucial not only for the elderly but also for middle-aged individuals.

Shingles vaccines can be divided into live vaccines and killed vaccines. Live vaccines, made from live viruses, are recommended for individuals over the age of 50. However, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems should not receive this type of vaccine. Killed vaccines, on the other hand, are suitable for individuals over 50 and immunocompromised individuals over 19. Despite requiring two doses, killed vaccines can also be administered to patients taking immunosuppressants. Pregnant women, however, should avoid receiving the killed vaccine. Professor Moon emphasizes the importance of vaccination, even for those who have had a previous shingles infection, as shingles often recurs.

Pneumonia Prevention for the Elderly and Those with Chronic Diseases

Pneumonia, an inflammatory disease affecting the lungs and bronchi, poses a significant threat to the elderly. In fact, individuals over the age of 65 account for more than 90% of pneumonia-related fatalities in the last five years. Pneumococcus is the virus responsible for causing pneumonia, and several vaccines have been developed to combat it.

In Korea, two primary pneumococcal vaccines are available: the ’23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)’ and the ’13-valent protein conjugate vaccine (PCV)’. The 23-valent vaccine provides coverage for a greater number of serotypes, as suggested by its name. Conversely, the 13-valent vaccine offers a high level of preventive efficacy despite protecting against a smaller number of serotypes. Individuals over 65 can receive the 23-valent vaccine free of charge.

For individuals with chronic diseases, it is recommended to receive both vaccines, typically spaced eight weeks apart. Even individuals with weakened immune systems at a younger age should consider receiving the 13-valent vaccine first, followed by the 23-valent vaccine a year later. If both vaccines were administered before turning 64, one 23-valent vaccine should be given after reaching 65. To determine the appropriate timing of vaccination, it is advisable to consult with a specialist. Professor Moon notes that those who received the 23-valent vaccine prior to 2012, when the 13-valent vaccine for adults became available, should follow a different vaccination schedule. Public health centers and nearby hospitals can provide guidance on setting up the vaccination schedule.

Influenza: Adapting to Changing Epidemics

Influenza, caused by the influenza virus, is highly contagious and poses a significant risk to public health. Each year, a new flu vaccine is developed based on predictions about the prevalent flu strains. Immunization against influenza is strongly recommended, especially for children and the elderly.

Flu vaccines are broadly categorized as trivalent and tetravalent. The trivalent vaccine guards against two types of influenza A and one type of influenza B. The quadrivalent vaccine, on the other hand, offers protection against two types of influenza A and B each. The quadrivalent vaccine is advantageous in providing immunity against a wider range of influenza strains.

Navigating the vaccination schedule may seem daunting with the numerous vaccines available. However, experts assure us that receiving the shingles, pneumococcal, and flu vaccines concurrently presents no risk, as these vaccines do not interfere with each other. Professor Moon addresses concerns about potential side effects, stating that receiving multiple vaccines simultaneously does not increase the likelihood of adverse reactions. While vaccination plays a vital role in preventing infectious diseases, it is equally important to maintain excellent hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing.

▶ Three types of Hyodo vaccines are recommended to prevent ‘shingles, pneumonia and flu’

▶ Three vaccines can be given at the same time… No mutual influence

With Chuseok, a traditional Korean holiday, over, I’m once again worried about my parents’ health before the fall season, and I’m wondering what nutritional supplements are good for my parents with weakened immune systems. If you are worried about infectious diseases after COVID-19, why not consider a vaccine that is guaranteed to be effective? Fortunately, most of the diseases that are fatal to the elderly – shingles, pneumonia, and flu – can be prevented by vaccination, so it is also known as the ‘three-type filial piety vaccine set’. Let’s take a closer look with the help of Soo-yeon Moon, professor of infectious diseases at Kangdong Kyung Hee University Hospital.

■ Frequent relapses of shingles… Vaccination is recommended even if it is contagious

Receiving the shingles vaccine does not 100% prevent infection. However, the incidence of shingles can be significantly reduced, and even if you do get it, it can pass with mild pain. Shingles is a disease caused by the chicken pox virus. It causes extreme pain along with skin symptoms such as blisters and rashes. It occurs most often in people over 60 who have a weak immune system, and vaccination is recommended not only for the elderly but also for the middle-aged.

Shingles vaccines are largely divided into two types: live vaccines and killed vaccines. Live vaccines made from live viruses are recommended to be given once to people over the age of 50. However, vaccine is contraindicated for pregnant women or those with weakened immune systems. The lethal vaccine is recommended for people over 50 or immunocompromised people over 19. A two-dose vaccination may seem a bit cumbersome, but it can be given even to patients taking immunosuppressants. However, pregnant women are not recommended to receive the lethal vaccine. Professor Moon stressed, “shingles often recur,” and added, “We recommend vaccination even if you have been infected in the past.”

■Elderly people with chronic diseases… 13-valent and 23-valent pneumococcal vaccines are recommended.

Pneumonia is an inflammatory disease caused by bacteria, viruses, etc. in the lungs and bronchi. It is dangerous for the elderly, with people over the age of 65 accounting for more than 90% of pneumonia deaths in the last five years. The virus that causes pneumonia is called pneumococcus, and various vaccines have been developed.

Currently, pneumococcal vaccines that can be administered in Korea are divided into ’23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV)’ and ’13-valent protein conjugate vaccine (PCV)’ depending on the serotype that can be administered. prevent The 23-valent vaccine can cover more serotypes as the number suggests. The conjugated 13-valent protein vaccine has the advantage of having a high preventive effect, although the number of preventable serotypes is small. For those over 65, the 23-valent vaccine is available free of charge.

However, if you have a chronic disease, it is recommended to get both vaccines. It is common to receive the 13-valent vaccine and the 23-valent vaccine every 8 weeks or more. Even if you are young and have a weak immune system, it is recommended that you get the 13-valent vaccine first, followed by the 23-valent vaccine a year later. If you had two vaccines before turning 64, you should get one 23-valent vaccine after age 65. Additional vaccinations are recommended, so it is best to consult a specialist to determine the timing of vaccination.

Professor Moon said, “For those who received the 23-valent vaccine before 2012, when the 13-valent vaccine became available for adults, the vaccination schedule will be different,” and added, “You can visit a public health center or a nearby hospital. and set the vaccination schedule.”

■Flu epidemics change every year… Prevention should be done with the right vaccine this fall.

Influenza is an infection caused by the influenza virus. The flu vaccine is created each year by predicting the types of flu that will be common each year. The rule is that a new vaccine is given every fall against the flu virus that will be prevalent that winter. Children and the elderly are representative high-risk groups, and vaccination against influenza is recommended.

Flu vaccines are largely divided into two types: trivalent and tetravalent vaccines. The trivalent vaccine can prevent two types of influenza A and one type of influenza B, and the quadrivalent vaccine can prevent two types of influenza A and B each. A quadrivalent vaccine is more advantageous in ensuring immunity against more diverse types of influenza.

How should we adjust the vaccination schedule to accommodate so many types of vaccines? Experts advise that since the shingles, pneumococcal and flu vaccines do not affect each other, there is no problem with receiving all three vaccines at the same time. Professor Moon explained, “Many people are concerned that side effects may worsen if they receive three vaccines at once,” and added, “It is known that side effects do not increase even when multiple vaccines are given at the same time.” However, thorough management of basic hygiene such as hand hygiene is as important as vaccination to prevent infectious diseases.

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