By Bernard Freeman
Many people are familiar with the vaccination schedule for children, but did you know that adults need vaccines as well? According to the CDC, immunity from childhood vaccines can wear off, requiring boosters. Additionally, adults are at risk of different diseases than children are so they require different vaccinations.
These shots are among the most convenient, effective and safest preventative care options available, particularly for people who are traveling to exotic places or working with at-risk groups.
Vaccinations are generally covered by health insurance.
What Vaccinations Do I Need?
Adults and children should get a flu vaccine every year. Protection doesn’t last from year to year because the flu virus mutates; scientists determine the strains of the virus that are most likely to infect people each year and prepare a vaccine for those strains. Although getting a vaccine doesn’t guarantee you won’t get sick, those who get the flu will likely be less sick if they got the flu shot.
The Tdap vaccine protects against whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria and is safe for use in adults and children older than 7 years. Other routine vaccinations include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), chicken pox and polio vaccines. Most people get those as children.
What About When I Travel?
Depending on where you’re traveling, certain vaccinations are recommended or may even be required. The CDC recommends hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines when traveling to Mexico, for instance, as contaminated food or water could be a risk. Parts of Africa have an increased risk of cholera, and jungle areas are full of mosquitoes, so getting vaccinated for malaria is a good idea.
Talk to your doctor about activities that could put you at risk for other diseases. Travelers who may come into contact with wild animals should consider a rabies vaccination. Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, meningitis, yellow fever and hepatitis B may be an issue. Check the CDC’s websites for recommended and required vaccines.
What if I’m Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
Getting a vaccine while pregnant also offers your baby that protection, so the CDC recommends pregnant women get vaccinated for whooping cough and, if appropriate, the flu. Newborns do not get vaccinated for whooping cough right away, and this disease can be deadly for them. Other vaccines, like the MMR, should be administered before pregnancy.
It also is safe to get vaccines while breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about questions.