Many think of vaccinations as something for children but it's not just kids stuff. All adults, including those age 50 and older, need vaccines. Some of the adult vaccine recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have changed recently. So even if you think you are up to date on your vaccines, you should review the following information.
Flu kills about 36,000 people in the U.S. every year and older Americans are among the most vulnerable to this disease. Because each year's vaccine is made to combat that season's strain of flu, you need a dose every year. Flu shots are given during the September-to-March flu season. Remember, you cannot get the flu from the flu vaccine.
Everyone age 65 and older needs to have the vaccine once. You may need a second dose if you are 65 plus and you had your first dose when you were younger than 65 and it has been five or more years since the first dose.
This vaccine is now recommended for everyone over age 60, regardless of whether you have had a prior episode of shingles. Shingles is especially painful in older adults. Some experts have recommended getting this vaccine only if you have had chickenpox. However, the CDC recommends everyone over 60 get vaccinated because more than 99 percent of people over age 40 have had chickenpox, even if they don't recall having the disease.
Tetanus, diptheria and pertussis (Td, Tdap):
Recently, we have heard a lot about increases in the number of whooping cough (pertussis) cases. The latest CDC guidelines suggest that any adult who is going to be near infants under age 1 should have one booster shot of tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough. If you have never had a vaccine that included pertussis, the recommendation is for you to have at least one dose at your next medical visit. Thereafter, you should have a booster of tetanus and diphtheria at least every 10 years. If you have a deep puncture wound you should contact your doctor to see if you need to have another tetanus shot.
Measles. mumps and rubella (MMR):
People born before 1957 generally are considered immune to measles and mumps because they are likely to have had these diseases as a child. However, if you are uncertain of whether you have either had the condition or had the vaccine ask your physician if you should have one dose.
You may also need vaccines for such conditions as Hepatitis A and/or B and meningitis if you have certain medical conditions or you are going to travel outside the U.S. Contact your physician to determine your level of risk for infection and possible need for any of these vaccines.
Remember, vaccines are important to keep yourself and those around you safe from some of the most debilitating and deadly, but preventable diseases!
For more information on immunizations, contact the CDC (cdc.gov), your local health department or healthcare provider, or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120.