The recent outbreak of pertussis (whooping cough) in California raises an important health issue: adult vaccinations. Often we equate immunizations with babies and school children, but adults need them, too. Not only are unimmunized adults risking their own health, but they can also act as carriers for infectious diseases.
Who Needs Adult Immunizations
Although adults don’t need the numerous boosters and shots that children do, they do need some vaccines on a regular basis. Certain factors like overall health, certain medical conditions, occupation, and travel plans may influence a patient’s vaccination schedule, so it’s important to discuss them with your healthcare provider. The CDC also recommends immunizations based on patient age:
- Influenza vaccine before the start of every flu season reduces risk and prevents the spread of flu to people whose immune systems are more vulnerable.
- One to two doses of pneumonia immunization for smokers is highly recommended.
- A TdaP, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) is necessary at least three times during a patient’s life, with boosters of Td every ten years.
- For women 26 and under, an HPV vaccination is recommended. Men under 26 can also take the Gardasil brand of HPV immunization.
- Any young adult who will be staying in a college dorm must be immunized against meningitis.
- Get a flu shot before the season gets into gear, usually in the late fall or early winter.
- Smokers may need another dose of the pneumonia immunization.
- Whether patients need another TdaP depends on immunization history. Most patients will need another dose during this time. At the very least, patients still need that Td every ten years.
- Patients who have never had chickenpox (varicella) will want to discuss this vaccination option with a doctor.
- Patients born in 1957 or earlier will need another dose of the measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine.
Ages 65 and up
- For older adults, an influenza vaccination every flu season is extremely important.
- Adults who reach age 65 and have never been vaccinated against pneumonia should get the immunization. It sometimes requires two doses.
- Whether a patient needs another TdaP depends on medical history.
- Any patient in this age bracket who hasn’t had chickenpox should discuss the vaccine with a healthcare provider.
- Everyone 65 and older should get immunized for Zoster, commonly known as shingles.
Some patients may also need immunization against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, depending on medical history, risk for contracting the diseases, and other factors.
Get Your Immunizations in August
August is National Adult Immunization Month, so now is the perfect time to schedule a doctor’s visit. Ask your healthcare provider if you need any vaccinations, and get answers to any questions you may have about how vaccinations work, what they’re made of, and how they protect you and your family from preventable illnesses.
If you have questions about immunizations, please contact us at Central Florida Regional Hospital. Visit us online or call Consult-a-Nurse® at 1-800-445-3392 for free physician referrals and answers to your health questions.