Se­niors, teens need im­mu­nis­ing

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Se­nior cit­i­zens and teenagers need to make sure they have caught up with the vac­ci­na­tions they need to pro­tect them­selves and their fam­i­lies.

Se­nior cit­i­zens are at an in­creased risk of get­ting cer­tain dis­eases like shin­gles, im­mu­ni­sa­tion ed­u­ca­tion fa­cil­i­ta­tor Michelle Tan­ner said. ‘‘When a per­son is in­fected with the chicken pox virus (they may or may not ac­tu­ally get chick­en­pox) the virus can re­main dor­mant in a group of nerve cells in the body for many years or decades,’’ she said. ‘‘Dur­ing a pe­riod of stress to the im­mune sys­tem (ac­ci­dent, ill­ness, in­creas­ing age etc) the virus may re­ac­ti­vate caus­ing shin­gles.’’

Shin­gles is characterised by a rash that stops in the mid­line of the body.

For some the pain that can last for months af­ter shin­gles is very de­bil­i­tat­ing.

The older we get, the greater the risk of shin­gles, she said.

Be­tween 20 per cent and 30 per cent of peo­ple will get shin­gles, some more than once.

‘‘There is a vac­cine against shin­gles called Zostavax but it is ex­pen­sive.’’ It is around the $260 mark. You can have a vac­cine even if you have had shin­gles. The vac­cine is rec­om­mended for peo­ple 50 years and older and is avail­able for your GP or some phar­ma­cists.

This age group also needs tetanus/ diph­the­ria boost­ers and should take into ac­count the need for on­go­ing pro­tec­tion if they are trav­el­ling a lot or if their oc­cu­pa­tion, like be­ing a health­care pro­fes­sional, puts them at risk of com­ing in con­tact with cer­tain dis­ease, Tan­ner said.

Teenagers also need to check they are caught up with all their im­mu­ni­sa­tions es­pe­cially if they are trav­el­ling a lot. This age group should also take ad­van­tage of any free im­mu­ni­sa­tions, as many are no longer funded af­ter they turn 18.

Communal living sit­u­a­tions like flat­ting while at uni­ver­sity also puts ado­les­cents at risk of dis­eases they can be im­mu­nised against. The dis­eases teenagers should be im­mu­nised against in­clude meningo­coc­cal, in­fluenza, chick­e­pox and HPV.

Tan­ner said that a lot of peo­ple are sur­prised that they still need im­mu­ni­sa­tions once they are out of school, which is why she is en­thu­si­as­tic about rais­ing aware­ness.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.