Vaccines Aren't Just for Kids: 6 Important Vaccines Every Adult Should Have

Adding routine vaccines to your adult health care schedule can help prevent serious illnesses from disrupting your life.

Many parents agree with the benefits of obtaining routine childhood vaccinations to help prevent serious illnesses such as polio or diphtheria. The physicians at I & R Medical Services in Forest Hills, New York, recommend that adults also consider the many advantages of vaccines.

And if it’s been some time since your childhood, it may be time for a vaccination update. There are at least six vaccines you should have as an adult.

1. Flu shot

Evidence continues to show that a yearly flu shot can help you avoid catching and spreading influenza and its sometimes very serious complications. An annual vaccine is necessary because different strains of the flu affect communities every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months and older obtain a flu shot before the start of flu season each fall.

The vaccine is especially beneficial for those most susceptible to significant complications from influenza. This includes children, adults over 65, and any individual with diabetes, heart disease, asthma, or other medical conditions that can compromise your immune system. For anyone, however, influenza can lead to serious health problems such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

2. Pneumococcal vaccine

This vaccine can protect you against pneumonia, meningitis, and other serious infections that often lead to hospitalization and possibly death. You may be an excellent candidate for this vaccine if you’re over 65 or have asthma, COPD, diabetes, or other chronic medical conditions. There’s more than one type of pneumococcal vaccine available, and your doctor can identify which is best for your needs.    

3. Tetanus booster

Some vaccines last a lifetime, but others such as tetanus need a periodic update to remain effective. Caused by bacteria common in the environment, tetanus is a condition that leads to painful muscle contractions. Treatment is often ineffective for this serious bacterial infection, which is fatal in 10%-20% of cases. Boosters are recommended every 10 years and may be suggested anytime you sustain a serious cut, burn, or puncture wound.

4. Tdap

Your doctor may recommend Tdap rather than a simple tetanus booster. The Tdap vaccine combines protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) in one injection. Tdap is on the list of recommended childhood vaccinations, and adults require at least one Tdap booster in their lifetime.

5. Hepatitis A and B vaccinations

Hepatitis A and B are caused by viruses that attack and inflame the liver. Hepatitis A is common in certain environments and may cause weeks of abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and other debilitating symptoms. Hepatitis B can become a chronic infection that may lead to liver cancer and death. Vaccines for both are recommended for children, teens, and adults.

6. Shingles vaccine

If you’re one of the millions who’s had chickenpox in the past, the virus can reactivate in adulthood and cause a painful blistering rash (shingles) that may last for weeks. Once the rash resolves, many people experience ongoing and often severe nerve pain (postherpetic neuralgia) in the area for months, or even years, afterward. The vaccine can prevent shingles or, at the very least, decrease the severity of the outbreak and your risk of developing debilitating nerve pain.

Schedule a visit at I & R Medical Services today for a discussion regarding your vaccination history and the many health benefits of adult vaccinations and boosters. Call the office, or request your appointment online.

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