Vaccinations are not just for kids – Adults need them too!

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Vaccinations are not just for kids – Adults need them too!

With the recent measles outbreak in the U.S., news coverage has primarily stressed the importance of children being fully immunized which is true. But let’s not forget about the importance of adults also being up-to-date on their immunizations. Many adults assume that once they are past childhood their days of getting immunized against diseases are over.  This very wrong assumption can put a person at risk of contracting an infectious disease that can easily be avoided by being properly immunized.

Too many adults in the United States are not getting the message that as we age, the protection we received from an immunization as a child can wear off over the years.  When you consider the risks adults face from their jobs, travel destinations to chronic health conditions, without being fully immunized they are placing themselves in a vulnerable position of contracting certain infectious diseases that can be far more serious than they realize.

The Centers for Disease Control  (CDC) latest report shows how miserable adults are failing at not getting the vaccines they need:

·      Only 43% got the flu vaccine

·      Only 20% got the Tdap vaccine for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis during the past decade

·      Only 28% of adults age 20 and older have gotten the shingles vaccine

·      Only 61% of people age 65 and older have gotten the pneumococcal vaccine

·      Only 40% of women ages 19-26 have gotten the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine to help prevent cervical and other cancers.

·      Only 9% have gotten the hepatitis A vaccine and only 24% have the hepatitis B vaccine

Reasons for not being fully vaccinated

What is preventing adults from getting the shots they need for full protection against various diseases?  The answers range from lack of access to healthcare with limited insurance coverage, irregular visits to their health care providers, limited knowledge of immunizations, or fears about safety of the vaccines.  Another reason can fall on the healthcare providers not being diligent in bringing up and checking on their patients timeliness of vaccines.

Vaccine safety seems to be a top concern of many adults.  However, by not being fully immunized, you are taking an unnecessary risk that is far more concerning than the highly unlikely scenario of a vaccine not being safe.

Vaccines go through years of testing before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration and even after being approved, they continue to be monitored for safety. The side effects from a shot are usually mild which might include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given but will subside in a few days.  Overall, vaccines are one of the greatest inventions of modern medicine that has saved far more lives than they have ever harmed.

Why being vaccinated is important

Being up-to-date with your vaccines is plain and simple – it lowers your chance of getting certain diseases.  The vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity to disease lowering your risk of contracting a serious and potentially deadly disease.

There are several reasons why being fully immunized is important in protecting yourself and others from disease:

·      The more people who are fully immunized, the greater the reduction of spreading serious diseases.

·      Flu vaccine not only reduces your risk of influenza but also influenza-related heart attacks or flu related complication from existing health conditions such as diabetes and chronic lung disease.

·      People with weakened immune systems such as infants, the elderly or those with chronic illnesses like cancer are particularly vulnerable to infectious disease.  By being vaccinated, you are helping to lower your chance of spreading disease by protecting others who may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition.

Avoid getting sick

Staying on top of your vaccination schedule throughout life is an important health measure many of us may be lax on.  Vaccines can help you stay healthy and prevent you from getting an infectious disease that can easily been avoided by being immunized against it.  Next time you visit your doctor have them check on your immunization status to see if it is up-to-date and to discuss which vaccines are right for you.  

We all lead busy lives and we can’t afford to get sick.  By getting the recommended vaccines you need, this can bring you peace of mind knowing you are doing your part of being responsible by safeguarding not only your health but the health of others. 

Consult your healthcare provider for guidance on vaccines or for a good reference visit the CDC’s recommended immunizations for adults by age schedule.