Vaccines have helped humankind nearly wipe out some of the most terrible, debilitating diseases we have encountered, including polio, small pox and pertussis (whooping cough). However, it is estimated that more than 40,000 adults in the U.S. still die each year from diseases that can be prevented by a vaccine. Just because you were vaccinated against something years ago doesn’t mean you are still protected.
The vaccines you may need as an adult depend on everything from your age and lifestyle to high-risk medical conditions, travel plans, and which shots you’ve had (or not) in the past. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that throughout your adult life, you need immunizations to get and maintain protection against:
Seasonal Influenza (flu): for all adults
Tetanus, Pertussis and Diphtheria: for all adults who have not previously received the Tdap vaccine
Shingles: or adults 60 years and older
Pneumococcal diseases: for adults 65 years and older and adults with specific health conditions
Hepatitis B: for adults who have diabetes or are at risk for hepatitis B
Other vaccinations you may need include those that protect against human papillomavirus (which can cause certain cancers), hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox (varicella), and measles, mumps and rubella. Speak with your doctor about which vaccines are recommended for you. And remember, if your immunizations are not up to date, you may be also putting your family at risk. Staying on top of your vaccines and boosters helps you stay healthier and slows the spread of disease to those around you.
After reading this article, how likely are you to speak with your healthcare professional or someone you know about vaccines and prevention?