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Important Vaccines for Seniors (and Where You Can Get Them in NYC)

As a senior citizen living in New York, maintaining your health is a priority. A crucial aspect of this endeavor is getting the necessary immunizations. These vaccines are vital in protecting you from serious, vaccine-preventable diseases.

This comprehensive guide discusses the vital vaccines recommended for older adults, including the flu, TDAP, shingles, and pneumococcal polysaccharide. Additionally, we will provide insights on accessible locations in NYC for these immunizations.

Key Takeaways

  • Vaccines are critical for protecting older adults from serious, vaccine-preventable diseases.
  • Vaccines recommended for seniors include the flu, TDAP, shingles, and pneumococcal polysaccharide.
  • Side effects of these vaccines are generally minor and may include soreness, redness, swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, and body aches.
  • Vaccines can be accessed in various locations in NYC, including hospitals, community health centers, doctors’ offices, pharmacies, specialty clinics, and health fairs – even if you’re uninsured or underinsured.

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Why Are Vaccines Important?

Vaccines serve as the linchpin of preventive medicine. When vaccinating, we prime our immune system to recognize and battle formidable pathogens. This process helps protect against diseases like influenza, whooping cough, chickenpox, and many more. 

By bolstering your health with vaccines, you not only safeguard yourself but also contribute to the overall health of your community by reducing the spread of these diseases.

Vaccines Seniors Should Have

Flu Vaccine

Influenza, commonly known as the flu, is a respiratory illness triggered by the influenza virus. This illness ranges from mild to severe symptoms, sometimes resulting in serious complications like pneumonia and bronchitis. 

These complications pose an increased risk to seniors, thus making the flu shot an integral part of a senior’s health care regimen.

When Should You Get the Flu Vaccine?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that seniors get the influenza vaccine annually, preferably before the flu season begins in October. This timing allows for a stronger immune response, as the body typically takes about two weeks to build immunity against the flu virus.

Are There Any Side Effects?

The flu vaccine generally has minor side effects, including soreness, redness, swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, and body aches.

TDAP Vaccine

TDAP stands for Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough), all serious diseases caused by bacteria. The TDAP vaccine provides a comprehensive guard against these diseases and is recommended for adults and seniors.

When Should You Get the TDAP Vaccine?

The CDC advocates that adults, including seniors, receive the TDAP vaccine every ten years to maintain immunity.

Are There Any Side Effects?

The TDAP vaccine’s common side effects include soreness, redness, swelling at the injection site, and potentially a slight fever, headaches, fatigue, and body aches.

Shingles Vaccine

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a painful skin rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus responsible for chickenpox. In seniors, shingles can lead to severe complications, hence the strong recommendation for the shingles vaccine.

When Should You Get the Shingles Vaccine?

The CDC advises that individuals aged 50 and over get the shingles vaccine to shield themselves against this painful condition.

Are There Any Side Effects?

The shingles vaccine is generally safe, with side effects similar to other vaccines. These may include soreness, redness, swelling at the injection site, low-grade fever, and body aches.

Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine (PPSV23)

Pneumococcal disease, caused by bacteria, can give rise to severe conditions like pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections. Older adults are more likely to contract pneumococcal disease, hence the emphasis on vaccination as you age.

When Should You Get the Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine?

The CDC advises adults 65 and over to receive the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine to protect against pneumococcal disease.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Like other vaccines, the most common side effects of PPSV23 include soreness, redness, swelling at the injection site, and potential slight fever, headaches, fatigue, and body aches.

Where to Get Vaccinated in NYC

Whether at hospitals, community health centers, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, specialty clinics, or health fairs, immunization is within your reach. 

Many insurance plans, including Medicare Part D, cover vaccination costs. But NYC doesn’t leave the uninsured or underinsured behind. Programs offer free or low-cost vaccines, ensuring everyone can protect their health.

For your convenience, some healthcare providers offer home-based vaccinations through home care services

These vaccines are administered by licensed professionals such as nurses or pharmacists. However, availability may vary as these services could be limited to specific pharmacies or providers in NYC. Otherwise, here are a few places you can visit to get vaccinated:

  • Gotham Health, Vanderbilt: A community health center on the 2nd floor at 165 Vanderbilt Avenue, Staten Island. Walk-up vaccinations, including the Moderna vaccine (12+), are available.
  • NYC Health + Hospitals, Bellevue: A hospital-based health center at 462 1st Avenue, Manhattan. Reach them at (844) 692-4692. They offer Pfizer vaccines for all age groups.
  • 137 Mott Pharmacy: Located at 137 Mott Street, Manhattan. You can contact them at (646) 669-8220. They offer the Novavax vaccine (12+) on a walk-in basis.
  • 28 Pharmacy: Based at 136-63 41st Ave, Queens. Contact them at (718) 799-0280. They offer both Pfizer (12+) and Moderna (12+) vaccines.
  • 7th Ave Pharmacy Inc: Located at 5412 7th Avenue, Brooklyn. Reach them at (718) 633-2299 for Pfizer (12+, 5-11) and Moderna (12+) vaccines.

New York State Medicaid members aged 18 and over can access various vaccines, including COVID-19, Hepatitis A, and B, Herpes zoster (shingles), HPV, influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal, pneumococcal, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, and varicella.

Are You Uninsured or Underinsured?

NYC provides additional vaccination options for adults who are uninsured or underinsured. There’s no need to worry if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t cover immunizations.

A network of community-based health centers across the city offers immunization services based on a sliding scale fee system, which considers your family size and annual income. But here’s the best part: the clinic staff won’t ask for proof of your family size or income, and services are offered regardless of your ability to pay.

Here are two community health centers dedicated to making sure everyone has access to vaccines:

  • Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Community Health Center: Located at 645 10th Avenue (on West 45th and 46th Streets) in Manhattan. They operate from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Beacon Christian Community Health Center: Located at 2079 Forest Avenue (between Union and Bruckner Avenues) in Staten Island. They operate from Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The following vaccines are available for uninsured and underinsured adults: Influenza, Tdap, Td, Hepatitis A and B (for at-risk adults), HPV (for adults through age 26), MMR, Meningococcal, and Pneumococcal.

These health centers do not require an appointment. Services are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t forget to bring your vaccination record if you have one.

Remember, staying up-to-date with your vaccines strengthens your immune system and contributes to your community’s overall health. Always consult your healthcare provider or local health department to determine which vaccines best fit you.

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