Immunizations For Adults
Vaccinations are just as important for adults as they are for children. Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you're immune to certain diseases. Vaccinations are important to stay healthy. Unfortunately, many adults don't know they need the vaccine.
Some vaccines may be more important depending on your job or lifestyle. For example, the vaccine is recommended for the military, gay and bisexual men, healthcare workers, people with certain health conditions, travelers, and pregnant women.
The way to better health
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following vaccines for adults:
Flu: All adults should get a seasonal flu shot once a year. It can reduce the risk of getting the flu by up to 50%. Its effectiveness depends on the type of flu that is spreading. It takes about two weeks after getting the vaccine to protect against the flu. The best time to get vaccinated is early fall. That was before flu season started. The CDC recommends that everyone get a flu shot by the end of October. While it's better to get vaccinated earlier, doing so later is always effective. Getting vaccinated even in January or February can still provide some protection. New strains of flu, such as coronavirus or COVID-19, did not always have a vaccine available when they first spread. The development of vaccines against new types of flu could take 18 months or more.
Tdap: This vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. These bacterial infections can be prevented with vaccines. It is usually given at age 11 or 12. If you didn't get it as a child, you need it as an adult. Also, if you are a family member (grandparent, parent, etc.) of someone who is expecting a new baby soon, it is especially important to get Tdap before the baby is born if you have not been called back.
Td: This vaccine protects against tetanus and diphtheria. These are bacterial infections. If you were vaccinated as a child, you need a booster dose every 10 years. If you haven't had one in a while, get one if you've had a serious, dirty injury or burn. Everyone needs a booster dose of Td every 10 years.
Zoster: This vaccine protects against the shingles virus. The shingles virus causes a painful rash. It appears as blisters that develop on one side of the body. It usually appears on the face or trunk. This can lead to long-term pain even after the rash has disappeared. The elderly are the subjects most exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends that adults age 50 and older get two doses of this vaccine. Doses should be spaced 2 to 6 months apart.
Pneumococcal conjugate: This vaccine protects against pneumonia. Pneumonia is a serious bacterial infection. It spreads through close contact, from person to person. Infections are common in adults. In addition to children, adults 65 years of age and older are encouraged to get vaccinated. Your doctor may also recommend this vaccine if you have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or COPD.
HPV: This vaccine protects against human papillomavirus (HPV). People who are sexually active are at risk of contracting HPV. This vaccine is given to infants. However, adults can benefit from it later in life. This vaccine requires three doses. If you received only one or two doses during childhood, you still need the last dose.
Meningococcal disease: This vaccine protects against meningococcal disease. This bacterial infection affects the lining of the brain, spinal cord, and blood stream. It is transmitted by coughing, kissing and living in close proximity. Your doctor will tell you whether you should get this vaccine.
MMR: This vaccine protects against measles, mumps, and rubella. Adults born after 1957 who have never been immunized should be vaccinated.
Varicella: This vaccine protects against chickenpox. Adults who have not had chickenpox or have not been vaccinated should be vaccinated.
Hepatitis A: This is a very contagious liver infection. It is transmitted through contact with feces (poo). Adults at risk should be vaccinated. Risk factors include living in or traveling to areas of the world that are commonly infected, exposure to daycare and living with someone who has hepatitis A.
Hepatitis B: An infection of the liver. It is transmitted through contact with blood and body fluids. Adults exposed to certain risk factors should be vaccinated. Risk factors include work that puts you in contact with other infected people, a diabetes diagnosis, end-stage kidney disease, chronic liver disease, or drug/sexual behaviors that increase risk.
Hib: Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) is an infection caused by bacteria. It infects the meninges and causes meningitis. Adults with certain risk factors should be vaccinated. This includes people who have been diagnosed with sickle cell disease, HIV/AIDS, a splenectomy, a bone marrow transplant, or cancer treatment.
Things to consider
When deciding to get vaccinated as an adult, there are several things to consider. Including:
Most private health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. Medicare and Medicaid will cover some vaccines. This includes influenza, pneumococcal, and hepatitis B vaccines. Other parts of the program may include shingles, MMR, and Tdap vaccines.
If you are pregnant, consult your doctor before getting vaccinated.
If you do not remember the vaccines you have had, ask your doctor about a booster shot or the need for a booster dose.
Most vaccines have few side effects. The negative effects of the disease itself are much worse than the vaccine. You may feel slight pain and redness near the injection site.