Routine vaccinations down in older adults, health experts say

As the coronavirus continues to plague the United States, health officials are warning about other illnesses that are compromising the health of adults. 

Lines and waitlists have formed for the coveted COVID-19 vaccine, but health experts say, unfortunately, the same can't be said for routine vaccinations. 

"It’s a big deal, to the point that we are concerned about a vaccine-preventable infection outbreak," Family Physician LaTasha Seliby Perkins said. "We don’t need a new outbreak on top of the one we already have."

Perkins says there's been a steep decline in immunizations among older adults.

"The risks are huge," she said. "On average, 50,000 Americans get vaccine-preventable infections every year, and adults and older individuals are disproportionately represented in that group. Part of it is because of the complications. As we age, our immune system weakens, and it makes it harder for us to fight off these infections, so we get more complications, get hospitalized and end up with disabilities around one skipped vaccine. So it's not worth it."

That's why she's providing a vital reminder of the vaccines recommended for adults.

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"Shingles, pertussis, also known as whooping cough, pneumonia and the flu vaccine -- and these are important right now particularly because of the pandemic," Perkins said.

She added these vaccines not only protect you but those around you and can help create community immunity. 

"We want to make sure we live to see another year," she said.

When it comes to hesitancy, Perkins said the vaccines are safe and whether it's a virtual visit to determine what's needed, curbside waiting rooms or even drive-thru shots, doctors are working with patients to make them feel comfortable. 

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