The elderly

Immunity declines with age, leading to a higher risk of serious infectious diseases. Many elderly people may also never have received the basic childhood immunisations because vaccinations were only administered at child health clinics from the 1950s onwards.
  • Many infectious diseases that are preventable by vaccines, and their sequelae, pose a greater threat to the elderly than younger adults, even if the elderly person is generally in good health. For this reason, it is recommended that people check their immunisation status.
  • The diphtheria and tetanus immunisation must always be up to date. A booster shot is required at 10-year intervals. The potential sources of tetanus infection include animal bites and having a cut or puncture wound contaminated by soil. In the case of a contaminated wound, the booster shot can be administered if the previous shot was given more than five years prior.
  • The seasonal influenza vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 65 and up, as influenza is often more severe for the elderly. People in this age group and their household contacts and carers can receive the vaccine free of charge via basic health care. The effectiveness of the vaccine declines with age, while the risk of serious complications increases. This is why the seasonal influenza shot is particularly important.
  • People who have a chronic heart condition or a lung condition such as asthma or pulmonary emphysema, as well as diabetes patients, should get the pneumococcus vaccine to protect themselves from diseases such as pneumonia. The vaccine is also recommended for other people aged 65 and up. As the vaccine is not part of the National Immunisation Programme, the recipients must pay for it themselves.
  • The risk of shingles caused by the chickenpox virus increases dramatically after 65 years of age. The disease can be treated with antiviral medications. There is also a shingles vaccine that is recommended for people aged 60 and up. The recipients must pay for the vaccine themselves.

Further reading

Page published 17.4.2018
Page edited 29.9.2022