Vaccinations Not Just For Children

By  //  October 26, 2012

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Healthcare Alert

(VIDEO by HomeTownHealth)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA–Two of my close friends and contemporary colleagues have each recently suffered through an episode of shingles, a very painful skin rash usually appearing in a band, a strip, or a small area on one side of the face or body and caused by the varicella zoster virus (also called herpes zoster). Shingles can occur in anyone who has had chickenpox in the past, and that includes most of my fellow “Baby-Boomers.”

There are over 200,000 cases of shingles, which is caused by the same virus as chickenpox, annually in the U.S. The virus can lie dormant in the body for many years and re-emerge as a painful rash that consists of red patches of skin with small blisters that look very similar to early chickenpox. Shingles usually clears in 2 – 3 weeks. But pain may last for months or years.

After recovery from chickenpox, the virus sits dormant in nerve roots, and, in most people, it stays dormant forever. However, in some, the virus “wakes up” when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system, or certain medicines trigger the virus to wake up and cause a shingles rash. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox. The good news is that shingles can be prevented with a simple vaccination.

Adults Need Vaccinations, Too

There is a common misconception on the part of many adults that, other than a yearly seasonal flu shot, vaccinations become less important with age. In fact, in the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report earlier this year, it was emphasized that substantial improvement in adult vaccination is needed to reduce the health consequences of vaccine-preventable diseases among adults in the U.S and around the world.

Learn about and understand the benefits of vaccination. (Shutterstock Image)

Discussion related to vaccination guidelines commonly focuses on infants and children, however, adults need some shots—such as those against shingles and pneumonia—that children don’t. Adults also need booster shots against some common diseases, such as the vaccine for diptheria, tetanus, and pertusis (whooping cough).

Learn How To Protect Yourself with Vaccinations

The vaccination guidelines listed below are based on CDC recommendations and recently published on ConsumerReports.org. Mild side effects, including redness, soreness, or rashes around the injection site can occur with any vaccination, and occasionally, more serious side effects might occur, especially in those who experience an allergic reaction. However, these recommended vaccinations have been proven safe, and all offer benefits that far outweigh any risks. For more comprehensive information and detailed advice go to the Centers for Disease Control’s vaccine information.

Ask Your Physician About Vaccinations Appropriate For You

If you haven’t already, get your flu shot soon, and ask your physician about other vaccinations that may be beneficial for you. If you had chickenpox as a child and have topped the half century mark, seriously consider getting the shingle-specific vaccine, Zostavax, to prevent the misery of a case of shingles.

 

Vaccine Who should get it?
Chicken pox/Shingles 
Two shots separated by at least 4 weeks, plus an additional shot to target shingles.
  • Adults who have not had chicken pox or the vaccination against the infection.
  • A higher-dosed shingles-specific vaccine, Zostavax, is also recommended for adults 60 or older regardless of their history. (It is also approved for those 50 to 59.)
Hepatitis A
Two doses at least 6 months apart.
  • Any adult seeking protection against HAV.
  • Adults at high risk, including homosexual men, people with liver
    disease or clotting disorders, and travelers abroad (excluding
    Australia, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and New Zealand).
Hepatitis B
Two doses 1 month apart, followed by a booster shot at least 6 months later.
  • Those requesting protection and sexually active adults not in
    a relationship.
  • Adults younger than 60 who have diabetes.
  • Certain adults who have diabetes and are 60 or older, based on
    their need for blood-glucose monitoring and other risk factors.
  • Those at high risk, including adults with kidney disease and
    predialysis, hemodialysis, and home-dialysis patients; homosexual men; international travelers (excluding Australia, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, and New Zealand); health-care workers, and people seeking treatment for a sexually transmitted disease.
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Two injections 1 to 2 months apart, with a final dose 6 months later.
  • Women ages 19 to 26.
  • Men 19 to 21 and those 22 to 26 who have conditions that compromise their immune systems.
Influenza
Once a year, preferably in October or November.
  • All adults, especially those at high risk, including the very old; people who have asthma or diabetes; anyone with heart, lung, or kidney disease; women who are or will become pregnant; and caregivers of children or adults with medical conditions.
Meningitis
Once. (Booster shot every 5 years for some people at high risk because of continued exposure to the bacterium.)
  • People 11 to 18 years old.
  • College freshmen living in dormitories, military recruits, and travelers to areas where the disease is prevalent, if they haven’t been previously vaccinated.
  • People with impaired immunity.
Pneumonia
Once. (Booster shot after 5 years for people who got first shot before age 65 or are at very high risk.)
  • Adults 65 or older
  • Adults 19 to 64 who have certain risk factors, including heart,
    lung, or liver disease; diabetes; alcoholism; cochlear implants;
    conditions that compromise immunity; asthma; smokers; and
    those undergoing chemotherapy.
Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough)
One shot, and a tetanus-diphtheria
booster every 10 years.
  • Adults younger than 65, regardless of their last Td booster.
  • Adults 65 or older who are in contact with an infant.

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