Every school age child is vaccinated for common ailments. Generally, past the school age we don’t think about getting immunizations. Unfortunately, immunizations don’t stop at childhood.
Since no one enjoys getting shots, it’s no wonder many adults and older people don’t think about getting vaccinated. There are several shots that you should get, especially if you fall into certain special population categories.
Check Your Titers
Before you begin vaccinations as an older adult, your doctor may recommend you get blood work done to check your immunity to certain diseases. Titers are immunity markers in the blood that indicate whether you have been exposed to a certain disease before. Since vaccinations are a form of exposure to the disease (passive exposure), any previous vaccines will show in your blood work.
Get A Booster
Sometimes immunity to diseases like Hepatitis A will only last for a timeframe, for example; 20 years for Hepatitis A according to the vaccine center. You may need to get another vaccination for these diseases. Blood titers are the best way to avoid unnecessary vaccinations and ensure that you have immunity to common ailments.
Booster shots are common for older people who only received one dose of the MMR drug (measles, mumps, rubella). They can also increase immunity for those who have had their titers checked and show no immunity. Other common boosters include Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis –whooping cough) and Varicella (chicken pox).
Adults and the elderly may require a Tdap if attending school, working in a public health or education setting. This vaccine is also important for those caring for young children and infants. Many times, infants are exposed to whooping cough from family care providers. Whooping cough is not a serious ailment for healthy adults, but it can be fatal for infants.
Chicken pox is not a common childhood ailment since the invention of the Varicella vaccine. Unfortunately, many adults who received the vaccine as a child don’t realize that they need a booster to maintain their immunity. This booster shot is also good for those who never had the chicken pox virus or the first Varicella vaccine.
Influenza is easily fought off by the immune systems of healthy adults. Special populations of adults should receive the annual influenza vaccine to ensure that they do not get the flu. These populations include adults over age 65, those with compromised immune systems, and those who may have respiratory complications.
The CDC recommends that all pregnant women get the flu vaccine. Flu in pregnant women can cause severe complications.
Age Dependent Vaccines
There are two common age dependent vaccines for adults. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Shingles, and Pneumonia vaccines are given only when age criteria are met.
Adults under age 26 are encouraged to get the HPV vaccine. HPV vaccination is recommended for both males and females. This vaccine can help stop the spread of HPV, which is known to cause cervical cancer in women.
Shingles is a painful virus that can cause permanent nerve damage to the affected site. The shingles virus is recommended for all adults age 60 and older by the CDC. There is limited immunity caused by the vaccine and risk for infection increases dramatically after 65. Because the vaccine can only be given once it is not recommended for those under 60.’
There are two vaccinations for Pneumonia that should be given to all adults over age 65. This series of vaccines helps protect against the respiratory infections caused by Pneumonia. At risk populations should also get the pneumonia vaccines to help protect against complications caused by Pneumonia.
Getting vaccinated against these common diseases not only protects you but also those around you. If you are concerned about your immunity status, it is easy to get your titers tested. Preventing the spread of deadly diseases like whooping cough is everyone’s responsibility. You can check with your healthcare provider about any and all immunizations you need.