Vaccines credited with eradicating diseases such as diphtheria, polio and measles in the United States sometimes still get a bad rap. Some people believe that they arent effective or may cause dangerous side effects. Some say they are no longer needed because most vaccine-preventable diseases are no longer a major threat. Some think vaccinations are just for children.
According to the December issue of Mayo Clinic Womens HealthSource, those beliefs are largely based on myth. Its true that vaccines arent 100 percent effective. But most routine childhood vaccinations reduce the likelihood of illness by 85 percent or more. During an outbreak, some who have been vaccinated still may develop the illness. However, they usually have a milder case.
The most common side effects from vaccines are minor and temporary such as a mild fever or soreness at the injection site. And, vaccines are still necessary. Diseases now rare in the United States are still common elsewhere, and they are just a plane ride away. Vaccines arent just for kids, either. Talk with your doctor about vaccinations that might benefit your health.
Adult vaccinations include:
Influenza: This vaccination is recommended annually for adults age 50 and older, adults with chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems, health care workers and those in contact with young children.
Pneumonia: Its recommended for adults age 65 and older and those with a chronic illness, a weakened immune system or those whose spleen has been removed.
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) or tetanus and diphtheria (Td): Tdap is recommended especially for adults ages 19 to 64 and for those in contact with small children.
Measles, mumps and rubella: Its recommended for adults born after 1956 who werent vaccinated as children.
Chickenpox: If you havent had chickenpox or shingles, this is recommended.
Meningitis: This is recommended for adults at high risk because of a weakened immune system, for those traveling to certain countries; or during a community outbreak, for example, on a college campus.
Hepatitis A: Its recommended for adults with chronic liver disease, those whove been exposed to someone with the disease, or those traveling to certain countries.
Hepatitis B: If youve been exposed to infected blood or body fluids, use injected drugs or have multiple sex partners, this vaccine is recommended.
Shingles: One dose is recommended for adults 60 and older.
Human papillomavirus (HPV): Three doses over six months are recommended for girls and women ages 9 to 26.
Source: Mayo Clinic