Vaccinations -- They're Not Just For Kids
Vaccinations are not only recommended for children and adolescents, but also for adults. It is not uncommon for adults to be behind in certain vaccinations that can help prevent potentially serious diseases and infections. Some of these may include the shingles vaccine, flu shot, and Tdap vaccine. There may also be some booster shots that adults might have missed as kids that need to be updated.
Think vaccinations are something only children need? Think again. If you're an adult, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) actually recommends several vaccines to help keep you healthy. However, if you're like many adults in the United States, you're not up to date on these vaccines.
Adults are definitely lagging behind children when it comes to getting their recommended immunizations. According to the CDC, many adults haven't gotten one or more of the recommended vaccinations. Immunization programs have been highly successful in reducing illness and death from vaccine-preventable diseases in children in the United States. But thousands of adults are hospitalized or die each year from illnesses that could be prevented with vaccines, like pneumonia and the flu.
Not all of the vaccines you received as a child provide life-long immunity. As the protection offered by some of these childhood vaccines wears off, you'll need a booster shot to keep you covered. Probably the most well-known example of this is the "tetanus shot," which is recommended every 10 years.
Other vaccines may not have been around when you were younger, or the recommendations have changed since you received them. For example, when the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine first came out, most people only received one dose. Scientists now recommend two doses, and a lot of adults still need that second dose (unless, of course, you've already had chickenpox).
In addition, as we age our immune system, which is our body's natural defense against bacteria and viruses, becomes weaker. This increases your risk for getting certain infections or illnesses, like pneumococcal disease and shingles. Vaccines can help protect you from these potentially serious problems. Finally, the flu vaccine is generally recommended for almost everyone every year.
Getting vaccinations not only helps protect you from illness, but also protects those around you. When you become vaccinated, you reduce the chance that you'll spread infections to others.