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Think vaccines are just for kids? Think again.

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You may think you only need to think about vaccines when your children are young, but adults also need to be vaccinated against some illnesses or may need boosters for vaccines they received as children. With a recent resurgence in diseases like measles and whooping cough (pertussis), it’s time to take a closer look at suggested vaccinations for all Americans.

“Being sure that you have the most protection from preventable disease is extremely important.  Vaccines are very safe and effective.  Vaccination recommendations do change and there are new vaccinations that have become available in the last few years.  Some adults may be more  susceptible to infections and require an individualized plan for preventing illness.  This is one of the important areas of maintaining good health and one reason for adults to see their primary care physicians annually.” 

-Dr. Lara M. Falcon, MD, Internal Medicine 

Here is a list of the most common vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • FLU – The best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot every year. An annual flu shot not only helps lower your chances of getting the flu, but makes it less likely you’ll get your family, friends or co-workers sick. But only about 43% of Americans follow this recommendation.
  • MMR – Recent measles outbreaks are making it increasingly clear why it is important to get vaccinated. Children should get 2 doses of the MMR vaccine – the 1st at 12-15 months old and the 2nd at age 4-6. Adults who do not have evidence of immunity should also be vaccinated. If you were born before 1967, ask your doctor about being tested for immunity even if you received an MMR vaccine as a child.
  • TDAP – Children should receive this vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whopping cough), at age 11-12. You should also get a Td booster every 10 years as an adult.
  • HPV – This protects against human papillomavirus, which can cause some cancers. Both males and females should be vaccinated, beginning at age 11 or older, with 2 doses recommended if the vaccine is given up to age 14 or 3 doses if given from age 15-26. New recommendations also suggest that adults age 27-45 talk to their doctors about whether they too should get the HPV vaccine if they were not previously vaccinated.
  • MENINGITIS – Children should be vaccinated with meningococcal conjugate vaccine at age 11-12 with a booster at age 16. Teens and young adults may also be given a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine to protect against meningitis B.
  • SHINGLES – Adults age 50+ are encouraged to get vaccinated to protect against this painful disease that may affect people who previously had chicken pox.
  • PNEUMONIA – The pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for adults over age 65 or those with certain chronic medical conditions even if they are younger than 65.

Changes to vaccine recommendations occur fairly often. It is best to speak with your doctor about which vaccinations are right for you and when you should receive them, especially if you have any chronic health conditions. Additional vaccines may also be needed if you are planning to travel internationally.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 17, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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