Think Immunizations are Just for Kids?
Adults Need Shots Too. August is a Good Month to Catch Up.
August is National Immunization Awareness Month, a good time to review your immunization status and talk with your doctor about updates or new shots you may need. Adults also need immunizations and booster shots to help fight disease and stay healthy. Yet many fail to keep current on vaccines or follow national recommendations.
Some adults think that vaccinations they got as children are good for life. That's not always the case. Immunity can begin to wear off over time. Also, some newer or better vaccines may not have been available when some adults were children. And, as we age, we can become more susceptible to diseases such as flu and pneumonia.
Here are four shots the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends for adults 19 and older:
- Flu – Get a flu shot every year, preferably soon after a new vaccine becomes available for the season (typically around October). The vaccine may not be effective for a couple of weeks so plan ahead if possible.
- Tetanus – Get a tetanus booster every 10 years.
- Shingles – Get vaccinated if you are 60 and older; you'll need only a single dose. In recent years, the Food and Drug Administration approved the vaccine for individuals 50 and older. The incidence of shingles increases with age, so talk to your healthcare provider about when this vaccine might be appropriate for you.
- Pneumonia – CDC now says that all adults 65 and older should be vaccinated against pneumonia. Additionally, if you're between 19 and 64 with certain health conditions that affect your immune system, you should be vaccinated.
Here's what else to know about immunizations you may need as an adult:
- Born in 1957 or later? If you do not have a record of getting a measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccination, you need this shot.
- Headed to your first year of college and under 21? If you'll be living in a dorm and have not had a dose of meningitis vaccine since the age of 16, you need to get one.
- Never had the chickenpox vaccine as a kid? Two doses are recommended unless your doctor advises otherwise.
- Wondering about the HPV vaccine? This vaccine for human papillomavirus is highly effective in reducing the risk of cervical cancer and is recommended for women 19 to 26 in three doses. (You may already have had this vaccine at age 11 or 12.) The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys as well, from age 11 or 12, up to 21. Remember that it is given in three doses.
- Concerned about hepatitis? The vaccines for hepatitis A and B may benefit you, depending on risk factors that result from your health, your job or your lifestyle.
- Taking care of your grandkids? Talk to your healthcare provider about a Tdap (Tetanus, Dipththeria and Pertussis) booster. Newborns don't get their first dose until they are two months old, and Pertussis is very contagious. Some parents may need a booster as well. It is recommended for individuals under age 64 who were not previously vaccinated, and those over 65 who are in contact with an infant.
- Traveling abroad? Don't leave home without visiting the Traveler's Health page of the CDC website. Depending on your destination, you may need additional vaccinations.
Keep in mind that the vaccinations you got as a kid may not be good for life. Immunity can begin to wear off over time. And, as we age, we can become more susceptible to diseases such as flu and pneumonia. Follow your doctor or advanced practice provider's advice about your personal immunization needs. To schedule an appointment with a Sidney Health Center Primary Care physician or advanced practice provider, call the clinic receptionist at 406-488-2510 or visit the Sidney Health Center website at sidneyhealth.org for a complete listing of services offered across the continuum of care.
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