Adult Immunization Resource
There has been a lot of publicity regarding the shingles vaccine for adults. However, there are several more recommended vaccines that adults are encouraged to receive. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention outlines the recommended schedule for adult immunizations.
The following vaccines are recommended for adults.
Zoster (Shingles Vaccine)
Recommended: 1 Dose after age 50
Shingles is a very painful skin rash caused by the same virus as the chicken pox. If you have had the chicken pox, the outbreak can happen anytime but is most common for individuals over age 50. One dose of the shingles vaccine is recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for individuals 50 and older. Our office provides this vaccine and here is a link with more information: Shingles Vaccine Info
Influenza (The Flu Shot)
We all know that the cold and flu season comes around each year and we run the risk of getting the flu if we don’t immunize. The flu is a very contagious viral infection usually found in the nose, throat, and lungs. The virus is easily spread by a person with the flu when they cough, sneeze, or even through conversation. The flu symptoms include some or many of the following: high fever, chills, cough, headache, runny nose, sore throat, or muscle and joint pain. Extreme fatigue can last from several days to weeks. The flu can be dangerous and can even cause death so a flu shot is a good idea once a year!
Tdap/ Td (Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis)
Recommended: Tdap once then a Td booster every two Years
– Tetanus (Lock Jaw)
You may have heard from your mom when you stepped on a rusty nail that you needed Tetanus shot. This is good advice! Tetanus is caused by bacteria found in soil, dust, and manure. The bacteria enters the body through a wound, like a rusty nail puncture in your foot. When infected, the bacteria produce a toxin that causes serious and painful spasms. The spasms can affect all muscles of the body including those controlling your jaw. This can lead to “locking” the jaw which contributes to the nickname of this disease known as Lock Jaw. It can prevent a person from opening their mouth and can also affect swallowing and breathing. It can take months to recover and as many as 20% of the people who get tetanus die from the disease. It’s better to get a shot!
Diphtheria is a disease of the respiratory system caused by bacteria. It is very contagious and is passed through a cough or sneeze. The diptheria bacteria produce a toxin that can cause weakness, sore throat, fever, and swollen glands in the neck. Diphtheria can even lead to heart problems, paralysis and death. Diphtheria is much better avoided with an immunization.
Similar to Diptheria, Pertussis is also a disease of the respiratory system caused by bacteria but the symptoms are a bit different. Early signs are similar to the common cold, like a runny nose, sneezing, and cough. However, after a week or so, violent coughing and choking, make life even more miserable. Lasting for a couple of weeks, it is hard for the person to breathe, drink, or eat and it can lead to pneumonia, seizures, brain damaged, and even death. Again, this misery can be avoided with the Tdap vaccination.
Recommended: 2 doses
Chickenpox is often thought of as a childhood disease but can also be contracted by adults who avoided the highly contagious disease as a child. The Chickenpox (varicella zoster) virus spreads very easily from person to person from a cough, sneeze, or from touching blisters on the skin caused by this disease. The chickenpox symptoms include an itchy rash (with blisters), fatigue, headache and fever. Chickenpox is usually mild, but it can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis, advanced skin infections and even death. If you are an adult who hasn’t had the Chikenpox, either vaccinate or you will likely contract the disease sooner or later.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Recommended: 3 Doses
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus typically spread during sexual activities. HPV is most common in people who are sexually active and may have multiple partners. It is most commonly found in people in their teens and early 20s. Additional doses are suggested for men based on sexual lifestyle. HPV is the major cause of cervical cancer in women and both anal cancer and genital warts in women and men. If your lifestyle necessitates this immunization, you should set an appointment to prevent this disease from spreading.
MMR (Measles Mumps & Rubella)
Recommended: 1 to 2 doses
Measles is one of the most contagious diseases and can be spread by simply being in the same room as an infected person. Even after the infected person has left the room, it can be spread through airborne agents that linger! Symptoms include a rash, fever, cough, and red, watery eyes. Fever and coughing can last can 7 -10 days and can cause measles can also cause pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, or death. The good news is that the measles virus is very preventable with this vaccine.
Mumps is also an infectious disease caused by airborne agents. The mumps virus is also spread by a cough or sneeze. You can also get infected by touching a contaminated object. The mumps virus causes fever, headaches, and is uniquely identified by the painful swelling of the salivary glands under the jaw. Fever, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite make this disease miserable. Severe complications for people who get mumps are uncommon, but can include meningitis, encephalitis, permanent hearing loss, or swelling of the testes, which can lead to sterility in men, although very rare.
Another virus spread through the air through coughing and sneezing is Rubella. In children rubella is usually a mild illness that includes fever, swollen glands, and a 3-day rash. Rubella rarely causes serious illness but can be very serious to a baby in the womb causing severe complications to the unborn child including miscarriage, heart defects, mental retardation and loss of hearing and eye sight. If a woman may become pregnant, this is a common sense immunization to prevent serious complications.
Recommended: 1 to 3 doses
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by the bacteria pneumococcus. While typically affecting the lungs, the bacteria can cause other less severe illnesses such as ear infections, sinus infections, and meningitis. People may have the bacteria in their nose or throat without getting sick and are considered carriers who spread the disease through a cough or sneeze. In the case of an lung infection, the pneumococcal disease can be fatal or result in long-term problems, like brain damage, hearing loss and limb loss. While many people are aware of the disease they are unaware that there is a vaccine for the disease.
Recommended: 1 or more doses
Meningococcal disease is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis (infection around the brain and spinal cord). This is a dreaded disease claiming about 10% of its victims while survivors have problems with their nervous system and may even lose their arms or legs. They may also become deaf, suffer seizures or strokes and become disabled. The bacteria are spread through coughing, sneezing or kissing. Early symptoms include sudden fever, headache and stiff neck, often with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. This terrible disease can be avoided by this vaccine.
Recommended: 2 doses
Hepatitis A is an infection in the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. The virus is primarily spread by oral contact with objects such as food, or drinks that have been contaminated by the feces (stool) of an infected person. This is a key reminder of why hygiene is so important, especially in the food services industry. Symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, and yellowing of the skin and eyes and vary in severity. An immunization will prevent this disease.
Recommended: 3 doses
Hepatitis B is also an infection of the liver. Differing from Hepatitis A, this virus is spread through the exchange of body fluids like blood. Sharing personal items, such as razors, diabetes blood sugar monitors may spread the disease. Sexual activity may also spread the disease. The Hepatitis B virus stays in the liver of some people for the rest of their lives. It causes flu-like symptoms includes nausea and vomiting along with rashes, joint pain, and jaundice. This virus can result in fatal liver diseases including cancer. This disease is also preventable with its vaccine.
If you are planning on traveling internationally, it is important to know that some countries have outbreaks of diseases that can ruin a fun-filled trip. Some diseases are easy to pick up on an airplane or in certain areas of the world. The following link to a Travelers’ Health web site where you can find out if your destination recommends or requires certain vaccines before you travel. Recommended Travel Vaccines