Aging is inevitable, and parts of the process can be unpleasant.

"As you get older, your immune system gets weaker. That's why we see more severe infections in older people."

Dr. Gregory Poland, who heads up the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, says it's why vaccines become especially important as you get older. And it's why his team at Mayo Clinic looks for ways to tailor vaccines to better protect older people.

"There are three influenza vaccines, one shingles vaccine, and one hepatitis B vaccine that have been designed around those issues and that work better than the standard vaccines in older people."

He says it's important to note that these vaccines aren't perfect and won't always prevent you from getting an illness, but they do protect you from complications from illnesses like the flu.

"So you might have had sniffles or fever. You were home for a day or two from work, but you didn't get hospitalized. You didn't get pneumonia. And you didn't die."

For the Mayo Clinic News Network, I'm Ian Roth.

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July 20, 2019