Vaccines Are for Adults, Too: Are Your Shots Up to Date?


Routine vaccination of children has helped eliminate or greatly reduce many devastating illnesses, including measles, polio, whooping cough and diphtheria. But vaccinations are not just for children, they’re for adults, too.

For some adults, the news that they need to stay current on their immunizations may be a surprise. Saira Jamal, MD, a family/geriatric medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor Regional Medical Center at Grapevine, is especially concerned about people in their late teens through midlife, an age group she calls an “underserved market” in terms of understanding the importance of vaccinations.

“Immunizations protect against contagious, preventable diseases that could be serious if you were exposed to them,” Jamal says. At the very least, not getting vaccinated can cause unnecessary suffering and be costly in terms of lost time from work or school. But more importantly, the vaccination could save your life.

Vaccines for Adults

Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough): It should replace a single dose of Td between ages 19-64 years and then you should get a Td booster every 10 years, more frequently if you have an injury with a deep wound.

Chickenpox: Adults without evidence of immunity to varicella should get two doses of the vaccine at least 28 days apart.

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR): Adults born before 1957 are considered immune. If born during or after 1957, one or more doses of MMR are recommended if not contraindicated. Women of child-bearing age without evidence

of immunity to rubella should be given MMR, and if pregnant should be given the vaccine after their pregnancy.

Shingles (herpes zoster): This is a new vaccine against the herpes zoster virus (shingles). The recommendation is one dose for people age 60 or older.

Meningococcal: College students living in a dorm, military recruits, microbiologists with high risk of exposure, travelers to endemic areas, people with functional asplenia, and those with certain chronic diseases should be vaccinated.

HPV: For females ages 11-26 (may be considered at age 9), this vaccine protects against HPV (human papillomavirus), which can cause genital warts and increase your risk for cervical cancer.

Pneumonia: Vaccination is recommended for those age 65 and over. Before age 65, it’s recommended for those with chronic diseases, such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic renal failure, cirrhosis of the liver, sickle cell disease, splenectomy, and functional or anatomic asplenia, as well as long-term care residents and cigarette smokers.

Influenza: An annual vaccine is recommended for seniors, those with chronic diseases, childcare and healthcare workers, and “anyone who wants to decrease his or her risk of getting the flu.”

Hepatitis A: People traveling internationally may need two doses of this vaccine.

Hepatitis B: Teens who didn’t receive this vaccine as a child and adults at risk for hepatitis B may need this vaccine. Those at risk include health care personnel, public safety workers who are exposed to body fluids, IV drug users, patients presenting with question of STDs, household contacts and sexual partners of people with hepatitis B, and patients with hemodialysis or HIV.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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