As an elderly or senior, it is important to be vaccinated. This is because with age, your immune system weakens, making it more difficult for you to fight off infections.

Assoc Prof Helen Oh, Senior Consultant from the Infectious Diseases Department at Changi General Hospital (CGH), a member of the SingHealth group, shares the top five reasons why regular vaccinations are important for the elderly.

1. Effectively prevents spread of infection

Vaccinations are very effective in preventing infections, hence avoiding the need for antibiotics. By making better use of existing vaccines and developing new vaccines, this helps tackle antibiotic resistance and reduce vaccine preventable diseases.

The vaccines included in the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS) 2017 have been evaluated by the Expert Committee for Immunisation on the basis of age, pre-existing medical conditions, vaccination history as well as efficacy and cost-effectiveness.

2. Reduce risk of other health complications

Vaccinations can potentially reduce the number of clinic and hospital visits for seniors, and improve their quality of life. In fact, vaccinations should be viewed as a preventive measure similar to exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and reducing medical risks (e.g. reducing lipids and diabetes).

In restructured hospitals, practices in place to ensure that patients, both inpatient and outpatient, are vaccinated after recovery from their respective disease conditions (e.g. pneumonia, heart failure and renal failure). In CGH, pharmacists initiate vaccination intervention for patients in the Geriatric and General Medicine wards.

3. Protect yourself and loved ones when travelling

Some vaccines are required (e.g. yellow fever or meningococcal vaccines) or recommended for travel to certain countries (e.g. typhoid, hepatitis A and Japanese encephalitis vaccines) because of the potential risk of exposure to certain diseases.

Getting vaccinated will keep you safe and healthy while travelling. It also ensures that you do not bring home serious disease to your family, friends and community. It is important to get vaccinated at least 4 to 6 weeks before you travel, to give the vaccine time to build up immunity and provide protection.      

4. Be responsible for yourself and those around you

The greater the number of unvaccinated people in a population, the greater the opportunity for spreading of a virus. This means that there is possibility of emergence of outbreaks. Also, many may be unaware of the severity of infections like invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), which in Singapore, kills one in every 4 to 5 adults over the age of 65 who contract the disease. 

The NAIS vaccinations are meant to provide personal protection from the relevant diseases. This in turn reduces the risk of disease transmission.

5. Pay for vaccinations using Medisave

Cost of vaccinations can be a consideration for the elderly. However, by visiting MediSave-accredited hospitals, polyclinics and CHAS GP clinics, the elderly can use their MediSave accounts to pay for their vaccinations.

Ref: M19


Check out our other articles on vaccines and vaccinations:

The Truth About Vaccines

Common Types of Vaccines

Recommended Vaccinations for Adults and Children with Diabetes

HPV Vaccine Helps Prevent Cervical Cancer

Must-have Travel Vaccines Before You Fly

Child Vaccinations: What You Need to Know

Children's Vaccines: Myths vs Facts