Experts advocate vaccinating seniors against various diseases

The Portuguese Society of Geriatrics and Gerontology (SPGG) defended the vaccination of the elderly against COVID-19, flu, pneumonia, whooping cough and herpes-zoster, to strengthen the immune system in the fight against these diseases that can be fatal in advanced ages.

Marking the World Day of the Elderly, which was celebrated yesterday, October 28, SPGG produced a set of recommendations for healthy aging. From the outset, vaccination “because, in fact, it is extremely important both in the elderly and in children”, said the president of SPGG, Prof. Dr. Manuel Carrageta, to the Lusa agency.

“Vaccination is one of the greatest successes in the history of medicine, having saved more lives, perhaps in the last 50 years, than any other medical intervention”, he stressed, noting that the pandemic has shown how “vaccines are so important and effective” , namely in this age group.

The expert emphasized that, both in the flu and in COVID-19, “more than 90% of deaths” are over 60 years old. “It is in this population that we have to be more assertive in terms of vaccination”, he defended, also highlighting the importance of the vaccine against pneumonia, “a very important cause of death in older people”.

With regard to influenza vaccination, the Society advises administering the quadrivalent vaccine, preferably with a boosted dose, every autumn – ideally between November and the first half of December – but at the latest before the beginning of spring.

It also highlights the importance of the vaccine against Herpes zoster, referring to the disease known as “cobrão” or “shingles”, which is less known and manifests itself as intense pain and unilateral vesicular eruption, usually in the chest.

“This infection is often complicated by persistent pain that is difficult to treat and can cause such suffering that, in some cases, it can even lead to suicide. It is also associated with an increased risk of blindness due to ocular herpes, stroke, paresthesias and nerve palsies, including Guillain-Barré syndrome”, explains SPGG.

Finally, we emphasize the importance of administering the vaccine for whooping cough, a disease that is likely to be quite serious in the elderly. “This vaccine can be administered together with tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, which must be administered every 10 years”, explained the president of SPGG, which aims to contribute to improving the well-being and health of people older people.