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Vaccinations Every Adult Needs

Today's Medicine

We often consider vaccinations as something only for children. However, it’s just as important for adults to stay up-to-date on vaccinations

In some instances, a vaccine shouldn’t be given until a certain age. In other cases, immunity fades and repeat immunizations are necessary.

So what immunizations do you need?

Recommended vaccines for adults

Influenza (flu)

Every adult should get a flu vaccine each year to protect against seasonal flu. An annual flu vaccine is available to anyone over 6 months old. Each year the formulation is modified to reflect the expected strains of influenza. Immunity lasts for only one flu season. Depending on your medical history or age, different doses may be advised by your physician.

Some people are at high risk for serious flu complications and it is especially important that they get vaccinated. They include older adults (65 and older), children younger than 5, pregnant women and people with certain long-term medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis)

If you didn’t get a Tdap vaccine as a teen, you need one as an adult. A booster vaccine is recommended every 10 years. This booster may be given as only the Td formulation of the vaccine. Depending on different exposures, injuries or medical history, you may need an additional vaccination sooner than 10 years.

Women should get a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably during the third trimester. 

Shingles

Adults 50 years and older are recommended to receive the shingles vaccine. The vaccine, Shingrix, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe and effective for adults 50 and older. It is used to prevent the herpes zoster (shingles) virus, and it has been proven 90 percent effective at preventing the illness.

Pneumococcal polysaccharide 

Often referred to as the “pneumonia” vaccine, Pneumovax, this is actually a vaccine against Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria that can cause invasive diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis. This vaccine is recommended for all smokers ages 19-64, every patient age 65 or older, and any patient age 2 and older with a high risk of infection. Booster doses of this vaccine are given to patients who had a first dose before the age of 65, have weakened immune systems, have had their spleens removed, or have had other specific medical conditions.

Varicella (chickenpox)

All adults without evidence of immunity to varicella should receive two doses of this vaccine. If you have previously had chickenpox or are uncertain of prior exposure, your health care provider can test your immunity based on antibody levels in your blood.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

Although HPV is most commonly known for its role in cervical cancer, this virus has been found in multiple conditions. Men and women should get vaccinated. Women can receive the vaccine anywhere between ages 11 and 26. It’s recommended for men ages 11 to 21. Depending on medical history, vaccination is also recommended for men ages 22 to 36.

Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)

The MMR vaccine is often given during childhood, but if you don’t have documentation of this vaccination and you’re over 19, you should get it. A routine second dose is given in some instances to adults who may work in health care facilities, plan to travel internationally or are students in postsecondary educational institutions. Rubella immunity is especially important in pregnancy, and all pregnant women without evidence of immunity should be vaccinated.

Other vaccines

Depending on medical or personal history, there are many vaccinations commonly recommended for adults. These include the meningococcal vaccine, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines and the Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine. Your health care provider will be able to review your history and recommend these vaccines if they are indicated.

You can always find more information about adult immunizations from the Immunization Task Force – Metro Omaha, but I recommend starting a conversation with your Methodist Physicians Clinic health care provider for a personal discussion about what vaccines are right for you.

Jessica Jones

About the Author:

Dr. Jessica Jones enjoys helping patients sove their medical problems. Seeing medical care as similar to detective work, Dr. Jones saw becoming an Infectious Disease Specialist as a natural fit. The Creighton University medical school graduate completed her residency at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. 

You can see Dr. Jones at the Methodist Physicians Clinic Infectious Disease Clinic

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