5 vaccines adults should consider


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We often hear about the vaccines children need, but many people don’t know what vaccines we need as adults. We tend to think, “Well, I got all my vaccines as a child, so I’m OK now.” But that’s simply not the case.

The need for vaccines doesn’t end in childhood. You can protect yourself and others by making sure you’re properly vaccinated.

Here are five vaccines we recommend for adults:
  • Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap): This vaccine helps prevent tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough), all in one shot. All adults should get the Tdap vaccine once in their life, followed by a booster Td vaccine (which prevents tetanus only) every 10 years. Receiving this vaccine helps keep you and the people around you, especially children, from getting sick. This is called “herd immunity” – when a large portion of the population is vaccinated, the chance of an outbreak is reduced.
  • Hepatitis B: Most adults received this vaccine as a child – if you did, you do not need it again. If you’re not sure, we can do a blood test to find out. It’s a three-vaccine series that takes six months to complete, and it’s especially important for people who work in health care or nursing homes or who are immunocompromised, such as kidney or liver disease patients (and their caregivers). People who have diabetes also should be vaccinated for hepatitis B.
  • Pneumonia: The recommendations for pneumococcal vaccine the have recently changed. We used to recommend one dose of the 23-valent vaccine, which protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Now we recommend a second shot – the 13-valent – which protects against another 13 strains. Anyone age 65 or older should get the pneumonia vaccine, along with anyone who is immunocompromised (or their caregivers) or a smoker.
  • Shingles: The shingles vaccine is recommended for people age 60 and older. The vaccine may not be effective for everyone who receives it, but we recommend the vaccine because a chance at protection is better than being completely vulnerable. If you do contract shingles, we can treat the virus to prevent serious complications and shorten the length of illness.
  • Flu: A yearly flu shot is recommended for most people, especially those who work in health care or schools. Flu season runs from the end of September to mid-March. It’s better to get the vaccine early in the season because it takes a few weeks to take effect.
If you’re not sure what vaccines you’ve had – or if you’re curious about vaccines you need – your doctor can help you navigate your options and check your immunization records during your annual exam.

Consider getting the vaccines above if you fit the criteria. A few moments of discomfort is worth protecting yourself from serious illnesses that often can be prevented by vaccines.