Every year, thousands of adult Americans get sick and are hospitalized from diseases that could have been easily prevented with a vaccine. Infants and toddlers get lots of immunizations, but their parents and other adults often forget that they may need vaccinations too.
“Every child has the right to feel safe and protected in their own home – how is this poor child going to sleep tonight or in coming nights? What are the long term effects on her going to be?”
But what if I already got all my childhood vaccines?
Adults need vaccines for a number of reasons, including:
- There are some vaccines that are only for adults because once they get to a certain age, they become more at risk for certain diseases, for example, shingles.
- The protection from the vaccines that you got as a child can wear off over the years. You may need additional doses to stay protected.
- Some newer vaccines are available and you might not have gotten them before.
- Viruses, such as the one that causes influenza, mutate over time so you’ll need to take a more updated version of the vaccine.
- You may be at increased risk for certain illnesses due to occupational hazards, health conditions, or recent travels.
Being an adult doesn’t preclude you from the risks of contracting certain diseases, after all. In fact, in some cases, adults may even be more at risk for these ailments than children. With that in mind, let’s walk you through some of the vaccinations that you should get as an adult, as recommended by the CDC.
Everybody should get a flu shot every year. The influenza virus is highly contagious and is the 8th leading cause of death in the US, per the CDC. Treatment can take anywhere from three to seven days, or even more if you count the necessary isolation period to prevent its spread. Little wonder even employers are including annual flu shots in their employee wellness programs.
Tetanus (Td or Tdap)
You may have received a series of tetanus shots during childhood, but as an adult, it is also important to get a dose of Tdap and then a Td shot too. This is to prevent the onset of pertussis (whooping cough), which is prevalent among adults aged 19 to 65.
Older adults (65 and older) should have a pneumonia vaccine. Pneumonia affects the lungs causing difficulty in breathing and fever. Senior citizens are more at risk due to their advancing age. However, younger adults with certain health conditions can also be at high risk for the disease. In these cases, the person will need to get the vaccination before they reach the age of 65.
MMR stands for Measles, Mumps, or Rubella, three potentially serious diseases that wreaked havoc to the populace in the early 1900s, and even earlier in some places. The vaccine is usually administered during childhood, but for adults who do not show evidence of immunity against the diseases, they need to receive one dose of MMR as soon as possible.
Other vaccinations that are administered at childhood but may be necessary for adults without evidence of immunity include HPV and Varicella (Chickenpox).
Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
Advancing age can increase the risk of contracting shingles. That’s why the vaccine is usually for older adults aged 50 and above. The most common approach to the vaccination involves two shots of the recombinant zoster vaccine administered over a 2 – 6 month period.
I’ve had vaccinations in the past; how do I know which ones I need now?
It is the personal responsibility of every individual to keep a record of the vaccines that they have received. Records should be kept in a safe, yet accessible place for easy reference as needed.
If you don’t have a vaccination record, ask your parents or caregivers if they have a copy. You can also contact your childhood doctor and ask for the record. Some state health departments have maintained thorough immunization information registries and may be able to provide the info you need. If all else fails, ask your current doctor what vaccinations you should get.
Are you up to date on your vaccinations?
Remember, getting vaccinated is not just for your own protection, but also for the protection of the people around you. The last thing you want is to be responsible for an outbreak in your local area because you didn’t have the necessary vaccinations.