What Vaccines Should Adults Get?
Infants and young children receive a wide array of vaccinations to inoculate them against infectious diseases. These vaccines are often prescribed the the pediatrician or even mandated by schools or daycare facilities, so it’s easy to ensure that your child receives the necessary protection. Adults, however, may not realize that they too need vaccinations. Some vaccines require booster shots in order to remain effective, and new vaccines become available as medical technology improves. If you haven’t received any shots recently, you may be due for some vaccinations. Here are some of the vaccines that adults should consider:
Also known as the flu shot, the influenza vaccine is one of the best-known immunizations you may receive as an adult. Because there are so many strains of influenza, it’s generally recommended that adults receive a new flu shot each year. This will protect you against the most active strain. Influenza vaccines are helpful for all adults, but the elderly are especially encouraged to receive these vaccinations. It’s also a good idea to get a flu shot if you work in an environment where you might come into contact with sick people, such as health services, schools or call centers.
This stands for “tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis,” and it protects against three major health threats. Tetanus is a serious infection that often follows puncture wounds or other trauma. Left untreated, it can cause severe neurological damage. Diphtheria and pertussis are both respiratory diseases that can cause difficulty breathing. If you have never had the TDAP vaccine or don’t know whether you’ve had it, you will need to get the vaccine and two follow-ups. If you have received the TDAP vaccine in the past, you will want to get a booster every 10 years to keep your tetanus protection up-to-date.
Meningitis is a severe infection of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. It presents with flu-like symptoms at first that quickly escalate. If left untreated, meningitis can cause deformity and death. It’s especially important to receive a meningitis vaccine if you will be living or working in a highly populated area, especially if you will be in a place where meningitis is common. College students living in dorm rooms and young people joining the military are especially encouraged to receive meningitis vaccines. If you received the vaccine the first time before age 16, it’s a good idea to get a booster shot after age 21.
Chicken Pox Vaccine
Many adults had chickenpox as children, which results in a natural immunity later in life. If you did not have chickenpox, however, it may be a good idea to get the vaccine. This is especially true of people with compromised immune systems or women looking to become pregnant. The itchy rash associated with chickenpox can give way to more serious symptoms including blood infections and neurological symptoms, so avoiding the disease whenever possible is a good idea.
The human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a sexually transmitted disease associated with cervical cancer in women. Although women are the only ones at risk of developing cancer, men can carry the disease and should be vaccinated against it accordingly. The vaccine is recommended for sexually active men and women alike under the age of 26 if they did not receive it as teenagers.
Shingles is a severe rash in the same viral family as herpes. It’s most common in people who developed chickenpox as children. It develops most often in the elderly, so everyone over age 60 is recommended to receive this vaccination. You only need one shot, and there are no booster shots associated with the shingles vaccine.
Depending on your age and lifestyle, you may need additional vaccinations. For example, people working in developing nations may require more immunizations than those living in the United States. People who work in education or health services may also require more immunizations as they are more likely to encounter individuals carrying infectious diseases. Finally, people with compromised immune systems and those who did not receive immunizations as children may have the greatest need of vaccinations as adults.
Many of the vaccines listed above are available at pharmacies like Walgreens or CVS. This makes it very easy to get the inoculation you need. It’s still a good idea to consult with your doctor about potential vaccinations, however, to rule out any possible complications or allergies. Your doctor can also help you decide which vaccines you need in order to protect yourself. If you’re concerned about a specific disease, be sure to discuss this with your doctor to determine the best solution for your needs.