After summer, we begin to hear about school physicals and immunizations for the kids, but are children the only ones who need protective shots? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states that many adults have not received or have kept up with boosters of major vaccines. It’s just something we don’t think about and not always reminded of. The flu vaccine seems to be the only one that is advertised each year as a preventative to the upcoming cold and flu season. But do you know what other immunizations are needed to arm yourself again infection and illness? Below is a simple guide.
Starting with the annual flu vaccine, adults older than 49 and anyone with a chronic medical condition such as asthma or diabetes should get in line for this inoculation. We all know the flu is a highly contagious respiratory virus that knocks people off their feet each year. Plus it can be deadly in elderly people and others with compromised immune systems. Starting in the fall, usually around October before flu season is in full swing, is the time to go for this vaccine. This preventative is usually administered by a shot, or if you are healthy and between the ages of 5 and 49, there is a nasal spray version. With this immunization, you must get a new one each year as different strains of influenza are predetermined and included in the vaccine.
Pneumococcal disease causes pneumonia and meningitis, a brain and spinal cord disease. Together they claim many lives in the United States each year and unfortunately this disease is becoming resistant to commonly used antibiotics, making treatment extremely difficult and showing that taking this immunization is that much more important. People over 65 or older will need a vaccine if you have never been vaccinated. Though a booster may be in order for those with chronic illnesses or those who received the vaccine younger than 65 at the time of the primary vaccination.
The bacteria responsible for tetanus, a disease of the nervous system, are found in soil and plants. Contrary to belief, you don’t have to step on a rusty nail to get sick. Tetanus which can lead to lockjaw and death has been associated with even clean wounds. The booster also protects again diphtheria, an acute bacterial disease that can cause breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis and even loss of life. It is usually spread through coughing and sneezing. So, every adult who enjoys gardening and the outdoors is vulnerable to tetanus. If you had the initial three doses as a child, adults will need a one-dose booster every 10 years.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease, spreading easily via the air and physical contact. The disease is usually mild in children, but can become quite serious in adults leading to complications such as pneumonia and inflammation of the kidneys, heart, joints, nerves or brain. Do you remember if you had the chickenpox as a child? So, if you haven’t had the childhood disease, talk with your doctor about getting the vaccine. This inoculation calls for two doses, with the second one 1-2 months after the first.
Measles, Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
The measles, mumps and rubella are highly contagious viral illnesses that cause fever, rash and with mumps, swollen glands. This disease can cause health issues as an adult, such as seizures, swelling of the ovaries and even death. If a woman gets rubella when pregnant she could miscarry or the baby may be born with serious birth defects. People need a dose of this MMR compound if you were born in 1957 or later if you didn’t receive it as a child. Best to check with your doctor on this one!
Getting the shingles is a painful skin and nerve infection that strikes people who have had chickenpox, which is part of the same virus. People over the age of 50 are at the highest risk, being that the immune system loses its ability to guard against this infection. There is now a vaccine, which may help prevent the disease or at least lessen the severity of the virus. This vaccine is given to adults over the age of 60.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection, which can bring about cervical cancer, the second leading cancer of women. You may need this vaccine if you a woman age 26 or younger. This immunization is given in three doses over 6 months. The brand Gardisil can also be given to men (age 26 or younger) to prevent genital warts.
Hepatitis A and B
A person may need this vaccine if they show risk factors for this infectious disease or simply want to be protected. Check with your doctor about this inoculation, which is given in multiple doses spread out usually over a 6-18 month period.
Use this article as a guide and discuss these vaccines with your doctor at your next physical. Even though we are adults now, doesn’t mean we are immune to infections and viruses that lurk the country. Better safe than sorry is an important motto!
Additional reference: Prevention Magazine
This article was previously published by this author on a closed Yahoo property.