Saturday , January 16 2021

Have You Had All Your Shots?

Have You Had All Your ShotsVaccinations are not just for babies and children. Adults need them, too. Odds are good, however, that you have not been keeping up with yours. In a National Health Interview Survey, it was revealed that:
• Only about 1 out of 5 (21 percent) adults 19-64 years old with certain high-risk medical conditions received a pneumococcal vaccination.
• Only about 1 out of 4 (24 percent) adults 60 years and older received a shingles vaccination.
• Only about 1 out of 6 (17 percent) adults 19 years and older received a Tdap vaccine in the last eight years to provide protection from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough)*.
Even if you’re convinced your shot record is spotless, consider that we have vaccines now weren’t around when you were younger. Protection does fade with some vaccines— perhaps you’re not as safe as you think. Or maybe you missed one or two vaccines as a child. What’s true for all of us is that as we age, we become more vulnerable to certain preventable diseases like flu or pneumonia. Vaccines provide invisible protection that gets more valuable with each passing year.
Vaccinations for adults provide protection not only for you, but for those around you as well. Pregnant women, for example, cannot be vaccinated so they can easily catch the flu carried by someone close to them. People with immune deficiencies are especially susceptible to the pneumococcal disease. Babies who catch whooping cough almost always catch it from an adult or sibling who hasn’t been properly vaccinated. Whooping cough starts like a common cold—a few sniffles, some congestion. As adults, we can have it and not even know it. But in a baby, what starts out as a sniffle can progress to something much more serious—even deadly.
Okay, you’re convinced. You’re ready to pick up the phone and call your doctor to schedule a round of shots. But which ones? What vaccinations do you need? According to the CDC, all adults should get a flu shot every year and the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent followed by a booster shot (Td vaccine) every 10 years.
For the rest of the vaccines, the answer is it depends on age, lifestyle, vaccination record, overall health, and what current conditions you have. The best, obvious answer is to consult with your physician for advice.
There are a number of conditions that can be alleviated for adults by receiving vaccinations:
Shingles is the one caused by the chickenpox virus. If you had chicken pox as a child the virus lies dormant in nerve tissue around your spinal cord and brain. It can emerge years later as an extremely painful rash. The shingles vaccine can ward off or at least shorten a shingles attack.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) infects at least half of all people who had sex at some time in their lives.** Sometimes it has no symptoms and the infection disappears on its own. Other times, it causes cervical cancer or cancer of the anus or penis.
Pneumococcal disease is caused by bacteria called pneumococcus. It can manifest as pneumococcal pneumonia, meningitis, or a blood infection. In its worst forms, it is fatal to one of every four or five adults over 65 who contract it. Two vaccines exist. Consult your physician to see which may be best for you.
Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria and can present as meningitis or a blood infection such as septicemia. Early detection and swift treatment is vital—10 to 15 percent of people infected with meningococcal disease will succumb to it.***
Hepatitis A and B, though different, can both cause liver damage. Both are also very responsive to vaccination. A combo vaccine exists that protects against both viruses.
The “childhood diseases” of measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles) can still strike us in adulthood. Adults born before 1957 are considered immune to the three diseases. Those born after 1957 can still be vaccinated with an MMR vaccine.
Chickenpox can be much more dangerous for teens and adults than children. Taking the chickenpox vaccine as an adult provides extremely effective protection. Between 70 percent and 90 percent of people who are vaccinated will be immune to chickenpox.****
The Centers for Disease Control says and statistics prove support that vaccines are not only for babies and for children. No matter what your age, there is benefit from rolling up your sleeves and getting a shot in the arm every now and then. What that shot may consist of and when? That’s a matter between you and your doctor—and your arm.
* http://www.cdc.gov/features/adultvaccinations/
** http://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/hpv-genital-warts/hpv-virus-information-about-human-papillomavirus
*** http://www.cdc.gov/features/meningococcal/
**** http://www.webmd.com/vaccines/chickenpox-varicella-vaccine-guidelines-for-adults
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