Vaccinations Aren’t Just for Kids
Immunization is a safe, effective and simple way to prevent life-threatening illnesses - not only for infants and kids, but also for adults. In fact, adults in the United States have a far greater risk of dying from a vaccine-preventable disease than kids.
The good news is that immunizations can protect you. Which immunizations should you get? That depends on your age, your general health… even your lifestyle or profession can make a difference in which immunizations you need. That's why you should talk to your physician.
Your physician might recommend the following vaccinations:
Influenza (the flu): Every year a wave of influenza sweeps the nation. For healthy adults, it can mean days in bed with a fever and severe cough. But it can be life-threatening for people age 50 or older or those with chronic health conditions. For healthy adults, one vaccination every fall prevents the virus. For high-risk adults, it prevents complications.
Pneumococcal Infections (pneumonia): These infections of the lungs, blood-stream or brain are a significant cause of death each year in the United States. There are now two versions of the pneumonia vaccine: Pneumovax and Prevnar. For adults over 65 years of age, it's recommended to have one dose of each, at least a year apart. Talk to your doctor if you're over 65 and you're not sure if you're due for a vaccination for pneumonia.
Tetanus-Diphtheria: Adults need a one-dose "Td" booster every 10 years to protect themselves against these life-threatening infections. Not sure if you're due? Check with your doctor.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis): Adults who have completed the recommended DTap/DPT vaccination series should receive a single dose of Tdap to replace a single dose of Td. This vaccination is recommended for pregnant women during the third trimester, and for individuals who have or anticipate having close contact with an infant 12 months of age or younger.
Chicken Pox (Varicella): If you were the only kid on the block who didn't get chicken pox, you should be the first in line to get immunized against it! A relatively mild illness in kids, it's usually very serious in adults.
Measles, Mumps & Rubella: If you never had these diseases as a child, nor were immunized against them, talk with your doctor. They are highly contagious (can be caught just by talking with an infected person) and have serious complications for adults. One series of two shots protects you.
Shingles (Herpes Zoster): According to the CDC, about one in every three people in the U.S. will develop shingles, including a painful skin rash that usually appears on one side of the face or body. Shingles is more common in those over 50 years of age and in people with weakened immune systems. It is caused by a reactivation of the chicken pox virus - so it only occurs in someone who has had chicken pox or the chicken pox vaccine. About one person in five may have severe pain after the rash goes away called post-herpetic neuralgia. The vaccine is recommended for adults 60 years and older.
Immunizations only for those at risk:
Hepatitis A: Two shots, 6-12 months apart.
Hepatitis B: Three shots over a six-month period.
Immunizations against these viruses that infect the liver are recommended for people who are either at risk or in contact with people at risk. Your doctor can determine if you are one of them. A partial list of those at-risk includes healthcare workers, those whose sexual activity puts them at risk, intravenous drug users, international travelers, immigrants, Native Americans, and Alaskan natives.
Travel immunizations: If you are planning international travel, be sure to ask your doctor if your destinations require immunizations for infectious diseases common to those areas.