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Adults: Immunizations Are Not Just for Kids


August 8, 2013 - ATLANTA, GA

That's right. The need for immunizations doesn't end with childhood. Each year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems, are hospitalized, or even die from diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, including influenza, whooping cough, certain bacterial infections, hepatitis A and B, shingles, and even some cancers including cervical cancer and liver cancer. Talk to your doctor today to find out which vaccines are recommended for you.

Most people don't realize that adults need immunizations, too. While many recognize that a flu vaccine is recommended every year, few adults are aware of the need for other vaccines to help protect their health.

Protection from some childhood immunizations wears off over time, leaving you vulnerable to disease. For example, there has been a rise in cases of whooping cough in the last few years with over 41,000 cases being reported in 2012. We have learned that the protection from DTaP whooping cough vaccine given to children doesn't last into adulthood, so all adults are now recommended to get one dose of Tdap whooping cough vaccine.

Adults may be recommended for certain vaccines due to their age, job, hobbies, travel, or health condition. Other vaccines may be recommended if they didn't get certain vaccines as children or adolescents. Check your immunization records to be sure you got the HPV vaccine and measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. You may also need the varicella "chicken pox" vaccine if you did not get the vaccine or have not had chicken pox.

Some adults, including older adults and those that have chronic health conditions, may be at higher risk for serious complications from some vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, because older age increases the chance of getting shingles, CDC recommends that adults get the shingles vaccine once they turn 60 years old. People with diabetes, heart disease, and COPD or asthma, even if well managed, are more likely than those without these conditions to have complications from the flu. To prevent possible complications like pneumonia, people with these chronic conditions should also get a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine.

But those aren't the only reasons to stay up-to-date on vaccinations.

Adult immunization is necessary because it not only protects the person receiving the vaccine, but can also help prevent the spread of certain disease to loved ones and those in the community who are most vulnerable to disease (like those with weakened immune systems and infants).

They don't have a choice, but you do.

Vaccines are available at doctor offices, as well as other convenient locations such as pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments. To find an immunization provider near you, go to http://vaccine.healthmap.org.

Many preventive services, including recommended adult vaccines, may now be covered by your health insurance policy without any deductibles or coinsurance. Visit www.healthcare.gov/what-are-my-preventive-care-benefits/ for more information.

Getting vaccinated is an important step we can take to protect ourselves and loved ones from vaccine-preventable diseases. Yet too many adults -- perhaps even you -- are not up-to-date. Talk with your doctor to find out which vaccines are right for you.

For more information on vaccines or to take an adult vaccine quiz to find out which vaccines you might need, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/index.html.

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