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Vaccinations Every Adult Should Have

June 16, 2020

Immunizations aren’t just for preventing disease in children. Vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also can protect adults from diseases such as pneumonia, flu and measles that cause serious illness and even death. In fact, adults who contract measles have a greater risk of death than children with measles.

Too few adults receive vaccinations recommended by the CDC, and that’s leading to an increase in certain preventable diseases.

Don’t Delay Your Vaccinations

A current concern is a recent drop in routine immunization rates for both children and adults. You may fear possible exposure to COVID-19 when leaving your home and visiting the physician’s office, potentially leading to an increase in vaccine preventable illness. The CDC recommends all children and adults continue to receive recommended vaccines at appropriate intervals, however. Any possible delay in vaccine administration can be discussed with your physician.

It’s wise to remember the burden of vaccine preventable illness in our country. For example, an estimated 400,000 hospitalizations for pneumococcal pneumonia (lung infection) occur annually with a fatality rate of 5 to 7 percent and influenza resulting in an estimated 12,400 to 80,000 deaths annually over the past 10 years, according to the Immunization Action Coalition.

An Ounce of Prevention

On a yearly basis, tens of thousands of Americans die of influenza-related illness, such as pneumonia and chronic respiratory infections. Many of these could have been prevented by receiving an annual flu shot. We’ve also seen an increase in whooping cough cases, which can cause serious illness in adults and cause death in unimmunized children.

We continue to see preventable cases of hepatitis B, pneumonia and shingles, the latter of which can cause chronic pain, depression and loss of eyesight.

Some vaccines protect against multiple diseases. For example, the MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. And the pneumococcal vaccines are effective in preventing not just pneumonia but meningitis and other fatal diseases.

People often question the efficacy of yearly influenza immunization and with good reason. It is an imperfect science. However, the current vaccines still provide 40 to 60 percent protection on average.

Vaccine Safety

One of the first things I do when working with new patients is to review their vaccination history. Often, people have a record-keeping challenge in knowing which vaccines they have or have not had. If someone is unsure whether they have had a vaccine or not, it is perfectly safe to get a vaccine again.

For certain diseases, such as measles, mumps, chickenpox and hepatitis A and B, a blood exam known as a titer test can be done to determine if a person is immune to the disease and doesn’t need a vaccine.

For people behind on their vaccines, it is safe to receive several different vaccines during a single visit to their doctor. Also, combination vaccines are as effective as individual vaccines. More information about the safety of vaccines can be found by visiting the CDC site.

The accompanying chart outlines the most commonly recommended vaccines for adults. Your doctor may suggest additional vaccinations if you have specific health conditions. Many physician offices participate in the Florida SHOTS™ program, a statewide, centralized online immunization information system that tracks vaccines for children and adults.

 

Adult Vaccine

Indications

 

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

Recommended if you were born in 1957 or later and have no history of having measles or the vaccine. Two doses are recommended if traveling overseas.

Chickenpox (varicella)

Recommended if you were born in 1980 or later

and have no history of having chickenpox or the vaccine.

Flu (influenza)

An annual flu shot is recommended for all adults, even during pregnancy.

 

Hepatitis A

 

Recommended for average-risk individuals wishing to reduce their risk of hepatitis A as well as those with chronic liver disease or those who are traveling internationally.

 

Hepatitis B

 

Recommended for average-risk individuals wishing to reduce their risk of hepatitis B as well as those with type 2 diabetes or chronic liver disease (or those traveling to certain countries).

 

HPV (human papillomavirus)

 

Recommended for men and women up to the age of 26 if not vaccinated during childhood (aged 9-15) and women/men aged 27-45 based on shared clinical decision-making.

Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13)

 

Recommended for all adults at age 65. More specifically, those who are immunocompromised or have high-risk situations, such as cochlear implants or sickle cell disease, recommended before age 65. For average-risk adults at age 65, PCV13 administration should be based on shared clinical decision-making.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide (PPSV23)

 

Recommended for all adults at age 65. A first dose is recommended before age 65 for higher-risk individuals with chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or asthma.

 

Shingles

The Shingrix vaccine is recommended for healthy adults age 50 and above to protect against shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. The Shingrix vaccine is recommended even if you have had shingles in the past or were vaccinated with Zostavax.

 

Tdap – Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)

Recommended at age 19 or later if not vaccinated as a child. A Td or Tdap booster is recommended every 10 years.

 

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