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Vaccinations: Not Just for Kids

When we think of vaccinations, we typically think of young children. But, vaccinations aren’t just for kids, adults need vaccines too.  

Every year in the United States, thousands of adults become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent. In fact, influenza (flu) and pneumonia are a leading cause of death in older adults. Vaccines also protect your family, friends and others around you from becoming ill, as many vaccine-preventable infections can spread from person to person.

Some vaccines are recommended for adults at specific ages and are determined by various factors, including: age, lifestyle, health condition and which vaccines you have received during your life. Some of the vaccines recommended for adults include the following:

Influenza (flu) - The flu is usually mild in younger people, but it can be life-threatening in older adults. Because there are different strains of the virus, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older.

Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis -  Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. 

Shingles – The Shingles vaccine protects against shingles and the complications from the disease. It is recommended for healthy adults 50 years and older.

Pneumococcal - Most people associate pneumococcal disease with the lung disease pneumonia, but it can also cause meningitis (inflammation of the meninges that protects the spinal cord and brain), and infections of the blood, middle ear and sinuses.

It is recommended that people 65 years and older get the pneumococcal vaccine, and adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions.

Getting vaccinated is one of the safest ways to protect your health. You can get most vaccines at your healthcare provider’s office, pharmacies, community health clinics and health department. It is also very important to talk with your primary care physician about the different vaccines and which ones are best for you.

By: Meredith Koomson, MD, Phoebe Primary Care Physician