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Vaccinations Every Adult Should Have

November 12, 2019

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, influenza 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, says Dr. Martin Derrow, an internal medicine physician with Orlando Health Physician Associates, and that’s leading to an increase in certain preventable diseases.

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

In addition, Dr. Derrow says he and other doctors 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.

As a primary care physician, one of the first things Dr. Derrow does 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.”

Or, 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. 

Vaccine Safety

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 at CDC.gov.

The accompanying chart outlines the most commonly recommended vaccines for adults. Your doctor may suggest additional vaccinations if you have specific health conditions. For accessible record keeping, Orlando Health Physician Associates participates 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 individuals with chronic liver disease or if traveling internationally.

 

Hepatitis B

 

Recommended for individuals with type 2 diabetes or chronic liver disease, or if traveling to certain countries.

 

HPV (human papillomavirus)

 

Recommended for men and women up to the age of 26 if not vaccinated during childhood (age 9-15).

Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV13)

 

Recommended for all adults at age 65. For specific, high-risk situations, such as cochlear implants or sickle cell disease, recommended before age 65.

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.