Vaccines are most often associated with the immunizations recommended for newborn to school age children, aimed at protecting young people from a range of serious illnesses. But, vaccines are not only for children. In fact, several vaccines are recommended to help protect the health of adults as well.
According to John R. Roberts, D.O., a family medicine specialist with Maury Regional Medical Group Primary Care and Rheumatology on West 7th Street in Columbia, vaccines are important to staying healthy throughout our lifetime.
Here are three vaccines recommended for adults:
Influenza – commonly known as the flu – spreads through tiny drops when a person coughs, sneezes or talks. Individuals can contract the flu by breathing in these drops or by touching their mouth, nose or eyes after coming into contact with them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that every adult be immunized every year against influenza. It is particularly important that older adults, those with a chronic health condition and women who are pregnant receive a flu vaccine to protect against flu viruses and their potentially serious impact. While the effectiveness of the flu vaccine can vary from year to year, vaccination can reduce the severity of illness for those who get sick. It is not too late to receive a flu vaccine if you have not already done so.
“Getting a flu shot each year is the first line of defense against flu. A yearly flu vaccine is recommended for everyone age six months and older, including all adults,” said Dr. Roberts.
Pneumonia – a type of pneumococcal disease – is an infection of the lungs that may develop from another respiratory illness, such as cold or flu. While pneumonia can affect people of any age, older adults tend to be at the greatest risk for serious complications from pneumonia. Vaccines are available to safeguard older adults against pneumococcal disease.
“All adults age 65 and older should receive vaccination against pneumonia. Ask your physician which particular type of pneumococcal vaccine is appropriate based on your unique health history,” said Dr. Roberts.
Shingles is the body’s reaction to the reawakening of the virus that causes chicken pox. Shingles is a painful condition that usually starts with a rash along one side of the body or the face. The rash develops into blisters that form scabs. While the visible effects typically clear up in a few weeks, the pain associated with shingles can linger for months or longer. It is estimated that shingles affects one in three people. The risk for shingles increases as we age.
“A vaccine to protect against shingles is recommended for adults age 50 and older. This vaccine is often administered in two doses, given a few months apart,” said Dr. Roberts.
Because everyone’s health is unique, it is important to ask your primary care provider about the vaccines that are right for you at each stage in life. Depending upon one’s health condition and travel plans, additional vaccines may be recommended for adults.