If you thought immunizations were just for children, think again. Adults also may need several different vaccinations as they get older, including influenza, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, meningitis, chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, human papillomavirus, hepatitis A and B, and herpes zoster (shingles). So talk with your doctor about any necessary vaccines and get ready to roll up your shirtsleeve. But don’t worry, this will only hurt a little bit.
People over the age of 50, as well as those with a chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease or asthma should have the flu vaccine . This vaccination also may be recommended if you have a weakened immune system, work in a health care setting, or live in a long-term care facility. Flu vaccinations are given once a year, usually in October or November.
If you are over 65 or have had your spleen removed your doctor may recommend that you have a pneumonia vaccine to protect you against infections of the lungs, blood and brain. This vaccine also may be appropriate if you have a chronic illness, weakened immune system, or live in a nursing home and have not previously received this vaccine.
The tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for adults 19 to 64 years of age if it has been more than 10 years since their last tetanus vaccine. Pregnant women who have not already received Tdap also should have the vaccine after delivery if it has been more than two years since their last tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis shot. Tdap protects against lockjaw, whooping cough and pertussis, which is a severe infection of the nose, throat or airway.
Additional vaccines also may be recommended:
- Those most likely to benefit from the meningitis vaccine are those who have a non-functioning or missing spleen, college freshmen living in dormitories, military recruits, and certain international travelers.
- You should have the chickenpox vaccine if you have never had the disease or if you cannot remember if you have had it or not.
- The measles, mumps, rubella vaccine should be given to people who were born during or after 1957 and never received the vaccination, as well as health care workers, college students, and international travelers.
- The human papillomavirus vaccine is recommended for women up to age 26 to protect them against infections that could cause cervical cancer.
- Hepatitis A and B vaccines may benefit people who are at risk of contracting infection due to lifestyle or occupational exposure.
- The Zoster vaccine to prevent shingles, a painful skin rash, may be given to adults age 60 or over.
For more information about adult immunizations, talk with your doctor or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for a complete schedule of recommended vaccinations.