By Dr. Michael Sheehy, Chief of Population Health and Analytics
Reliant Medical Group
Many adults believe that other than for the flu, vaccines are for kids. However, it’s very important that adults also receive appropriate vaccinations to protect them from potential disease. Keep in mind that although there have been many technological breakthroughs in medicine over the years, vaccines are still quite remarkable for their ability to ward off illness and keep us healthy. Adults, just like children, should take advantage of them.
For adults, determining which vaccines are appropriate is a little more complicated than for children. It will depend on your health, lifestyle, and which vaccines you may have had in the past. There are some vaccines that are recommended for virtually all adults, including:
- Seasonal influenza
- Tetanus and diphtheria (required every 10 years)
- Pertussis (also known as whooping cough – for all adults who have not previously received the Tdap vaccine and for women during pregnancy)
- Shingles (for adults 60 years and over)
- Pneumococcal disease (for adults 65 years and older and adults younger than 65 who have specific health conditions)
Other Vaccines You May Need
Depending on your age and health history, there may be other vaccines that you should receive. Speaking with your primary care provider is the best way to determine what vaccines are appropriate for you. The following vaccines are recommended for adults who meet certain health conditions:
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) – Generally, anyone 18 years of age or older who was born after 1956 should get at least one dose of MMR vaccine, unless they can show that they have either been vaccinated or had all three diseases.
Chickenpox – this vaccine is recommended for adults who have not had chickenpox or previously received the vaccine.
HPV (human papillomavirus) – Women age 26 and younger and men age 21 and younger should be immunized against HPV, a virus linked to many different cancers.
Hepatitis A – Hepatitis is a serious disease of the liver that can be spread by food, water, or objects that have been contaminated with the virus. Adults who have not been vaccinated previously and want to be protected against hepatitis A can receive the vaccine. This vaccine is also recommended if you are traveling to countries where hepatitis A is common, use illegal drugs, as well as other conditions.
Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B is spread through blood and other bodily fluids. The vaccine is recommended for unvaccinated adults who are at risk for hepatitis B virus infection, including people whose sex partners have hepatitis B. All children and adolescents younger than 19 years of age who have not yet gotten the vaccine should be vaccinated. Other conditions may warrant getting this vaccine as an adult.
Communication is Key
Keep in mind that since everyone’s lifestyle and individual health history is different, a vaccine that is appropriate for you may not be right for someone else. That’s why it’s important to talk with your doctor or other healthcare provider about what vaccinations you may need. Getting properly immunized is one of the most important steps you can take for your long-term health. So be sure to take advantage of all the benefits vaccines can provide. You can learn more about vaccines for adults at this web page by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.