It’s important to note that as in many households, Milwaukee area women are the primary decision makers for their families when it comes to health care and guidance. And this year, following a tough flu season, it’s likely you, your mom, grandma or your wife encouraged everyone to get immunized. But it’s equally important not to forget that older relatives need to be vaccinated against pneumococcal pneumonia. Amidst a snowy and cold April, many seniors still remain cooped up inside this year and that can allow for bad colds and other respiratory illnesses to develop into something far worse if left unchecked. It doesn’t have to happen and we all need to remain vigilant in our role regarding family health.
The CDC already tells us those 65+ are more susceptible to influenza and that can lead to pneumococcal pneumonia. If you have a parent or grandparent who is not already vaccinated against pneumonia and the flu, they should be. Many insurers cover these shots and there is also assistance through community health centers and health departments. The shingles vaccination is also a good idea.
This year in Wisconsin, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, senior centers and others have reported higher incidents of flu and pneumococcal pneumonia. Some have struggled just to keep up with staff and medical assistance.
Urban and rural areas annually report higher incidents of pneumonia among African American and Hispanic populations. The CDC indicates these individuals are more susceptible to these diseases. The good news is that additional studies have shown women of all ethnicities have a strong voice in family health decisions and have the power to ensure the health of their loved ones is protected year round.
Vaccination recommendations for older adults are in place for a good reason and should remain. These shots help protect our seniors from diseases that, if allowed to spread, can easily turn deadly. Sadly, it often takes a spike in deaths or an outbreak to get attention grabbing headlines and generate awareness. Hopefully women in all our neighborhoods, large and small, can get their loved ones vaccinated now to protect their health from diseases throughout the year.
Sara Finger is the Founder & Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health