The city’s senior citizens will now have an opportunity to vaccinate themselves against infections and preventable diseases.

There are several ailments such as pneumonia, herpes and flu that elderly persons are vulnerable to, and vaccines are recommended for protection against these diseases.

For the benefit of the elderly, senior geriatrician V.S. Natarajan is launching a geriatric immunisation programme on Wednesday.

However, among senior citizens, speculation abounds about the programme.

Some senior citizens say they want to wait and watch how the vaccination programme is implemented. For others, the mention of vaccines brings back memories of earlier experiences.

S.M. Chellaswamy, who is 76 and has had two heart attacks, said on both occasions he was given injections and they helped. “I paid Rs. 2,000 for each vaccine but the benefits outweighed the costs,” he said. As general secretary of the National Alliance of Senior Citizens Associations of India, he says it is necessary to monitor the implementation of the programme.

“It all depends on individual health conditions. The medical history of the individual takes on significance after the age of 50,” said a senior citizen living in Anna Nagar. “As we grow older, we have many health problems. The elderly are given a lot of medicines and we spend a lot of money. It is best to go to someone who knows the patient’s history and prescribes medicines accordingly,” he said.

He said it was advisable to remain attached to a hospital or a doctor who maintained health records meticulously, and would prescribe medication keeping in mind the patient’s health condition.

A geriatrician in government service said vaccinations against known infections would help those who have undergone transplant surgeries as their immunity is already compromised. The move would especially help frail elderly patients, he said.

“Many very elderly patients die of pneumonia, and a vaccine can prevent this,” he said.

Dr. Natarajan, said his clinic would provide vaccinations for influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, typhoid and Hepatitis B.

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