Immunization isn’t just for children. Some of those vaccinations you may have had as a child can wear off over time, becoming less effective. You may need additional vaccinations if you’re traveling to a different country or if you’re going to be around young children who may not yet be immunized. In addition, with age, your immune system becomes weaker, and complications from illnesses can be more serious.
For most adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends these vaccines:
- Influenza (flu) vaccine: All adults should get a flu shot each year. Although the shot does not provide 100 percent protection, it cuts the risk of getting the flu by 40 – 60 percent.
- Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap or Td): This combination vaccination protects against the bacterial infection that causes lockjaw as well as diphtheria (a respiratory infection) and whooping cough. You only need the Tdap once, but you should have the Td booster dose every 10 years.
- Chickenpox: Chickenpox can be serious, particularly for adults. If you have not had chickenpox, you should get the vaccine.
- Shingles: If you have had chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant for years, reactivating later in life to cause shingles. The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for adults 50 and older.
- Pneumococcal vaccine: Recommended for adults 65 plus, the pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent the infection that causes pneumonia, meningitis and the bloodstream infection sepsis. The vaccine also is recommended for adults under 65 who smoke or have asthma, diabetes or other immune problems.
- MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella): For adults born in 1957 or later, the CDC recommends the MMR if you have not yet received it.
- HPV: Young adults, especially women aged 19 to 26 and men aged 19 to 21 should get the vaccine to guard against the human papillomavirus.
Are you up-to-date on your immunizations? Talk with your doctor to find out if you need any additional vaccines and make an appointment for fall to get your annual flu shot.
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