3 reasons why adults still need vaccinations

Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. suffer serious health issues, are hospitalized and even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.

Many people believe that when they reach adulthood they no longer need to be vaccinated. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, too few adults are getting their recommended vaccines. Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. suffer serious health issues, are hospitalized and even die from diseases that could have been prevented by vaccines.

Adults should work with their primary care provider to ensure they remain up-to-date on vaccinations that could prevent life-threatening diseases. Jonathan W. Wilding, M.D., internal medicine physician with Norton Community Medical Associates – Preston, gives three important reasons.

Reason No. 1. It’s simple: Vaccinations protect your health.

“Two vaccines are crucial for all adults — the flu shot and the pneumococcal shot,” Dr. Wilding said. “Simply put, influenza and pneumonia are among the top 10 causes of adult death in the U.S. But they don’t need to be.”

All adults should get a flu shot every fall. The pneumococcal vaccine should be given to those age 65 and older or who have chronic health conditions that warrant it, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure or COPD.

In addition, many childhood immunizations wear off in adulthood. A “booster” shot may be needed to continue immunity. Adults at risk for other preventable diseases due to age, lifestyle, occupation or travel may need additional vaccinations.

Once the flu and pneumococcal vaccines have been addressed, Dr. Wilding said it’s important for adults to at least stay current on their shingles and Tdap shots.

Vaccines adults should stay up-to-date on include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Shingles
  • Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)
  • Chickenpox
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR)
  • Meningitis

Reason No. 2. Vaccinations protect the health of your loved ones and friends. When you are vaccinated against contagious diseases, you reduce your chance of getting sick and spreading germs that may make others around you sick.

“Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a great example of doing right by the health of others, particularly babies and youngsters,” Dr. Wilding said. “Whooping cough is highly contagious and dangerous to babies, and it has made a resurgence recently due to a decline in the number of people getting vaccinated against it.”

Reason No. 3. Vaccinations protect the health of our community and our nation. Not only do they reduce the number of people getting sick, they reduce health care costs as a whole. Hospitalization is very expensive and is compounded by time away from work and lost wages. Since most vaccines are covered by insurance, it pays to do this small part to keep yourself and others well.

“Adult vaccinations, like pediatric vaccinations, carry small risk with great benefits for the patient, his or her loved ones, and the community as a whole,” Dr. Wilding said.

Scared of needles? Talk to your doctor about alternatives. Some vaccines can be given as a nasal spray, in liquid or pill form, or can be delivered under the skin using a smaller needle. Some vaccines may cause mild side effects, such as soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Severe side effects are rare.

Other reasons to stay protected include travel outside of the country, making up for not being fully vaccinated as a child or going to college, which requires proof of vaccinations.

“Establish a relationship with your family doctor or primary care provider and have a discussion about whether you are up-to-date on vaccinations,” Dr. Wilding said. “Make time every year or two for preventive care, where you and your provider can go over your history and any changes in your health. If you have electronic access to your medical records, review your immunization history so you can be prepared to discuss it at your appointment.”


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