Adults Need Vaccines Too

Posted 12/13/2013 in Public Health

Brought to you by Delaware County Public Health

When people think of vaccines, they typically think of children.  We are kept informed about children’s needs for vaccines, but often the need for adult vaccines is overlooked.  The vaccines you need as an adult depends on everything from your age and lifestyle, to high-risk medical conditions, travel plans, and which shots you’ve had in the past.

“Vaccination is an important part of preventative healthcare and yet many adults are not optimally ?vaccinated,” says Delma Hardin, RN, BSN, Delaware County Public Health Manager. “Take time each year to discuss your vaccine needs with your healthcare provider,” suggests Hardin. Following are 7 important reasons to have this discussion.

  1. You may no longer be protected. You may have received a vaccine as a child, but some vaccines require a booster to remain protected. Protection may not be life-long for diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) or tetanus. 
  2. Getting vaccines helps protect your kids—especially babies too young for vaccines. Whooping cough vaccines are recommended for pregnant women and people who have contact with young babies. The same is true for the flu vaccine.
  3. Everyone needs a flu vaccine, every year. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine annually if they do not have a medical reason not to receive the vaccine. Each year’s vaccination is designed to protect against the three or four strains of influenza anticipated to be most commonly circulated in the upcoming flu season.
  4. Newer vaccines have been developed. Some vaccinations recommended for adults are fairly new. For instance, the FDA approved the first HPV vaccine and shingles vaccine in 2006.
  5. You’re going back to college. Many adults are returning to school, and most colleges require proof of routine vaccinations. You may not have those records; your parents may not have those records; and your childhood doctor may no longer be practicing. “It’s OK to repeat a vaccine, but keeping good records would help avoid the hassle and cost of repeating vaccines,” says Hardin.
  6. You work in the healthcare profession. Healthcare providers are exposed to all sorts of potential infections, blood and bodily fluids. Most are required to have a complete vaccination series and evidence of immunity for things like measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and hepatitis B, as well as an annual influenza vaccination.
  7. You ha?ve asthma, heart, lung disease, diabetes, or other chronic disease. Or if you smoke cigarettes, or your immune system is otherwise compromised. These conditions may make you much sicker than others when exposed to viruses or bacteria. The pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent serious disease such as pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections.  Influenza can lead to pneumonia and make existing medical conditions worse.  The flu vaccine is your best protection from influenza.

Contact your healthcare provider to find out what vaccines you need.  For more information or to speak with someone regarding adult vaccines, contact Delaware County Public Health at 563-927-7551 or Regional Family Health at 563-927-7777.