Never Too Old to Get a Shot | Health
Many adult ailments that used to be common can now be reduced or avoided with a robust vaccination program. They include influenza, pneumonia, meningitis, shingles, hepatitis, and cervical cancer, to name a few.
“So often when we think of immunization we think of children and the schedule of vaccines that provides them with protection,” said Cindy Modie, director of the Consortium for Healthy and Immunized Communities (CHIC) of Northern Ohio. “Adults should also receive vaccines that are specifically recommended for them and protect them against common adult diseases. These include influenza, pneumonia, measles, tetanus, hepatitis B, whooping cough and shingles. One in three adults will develop shingles in their lifetime. This disease is characterized by an extremely painful rash that can result in permanent nerve damage and pain that can last for years. Staying up to date on immunizations can help adults protect themselves against these diseases. For adults, immunization is an important step to good health.”
For adults living with chronic illnesses, staying current on their vaccination can be critical. People with chronic conditions such as kidney or heart disease, diabetes, asthma, HIV/AIDS, mental illness and more can avoid unnecessary stress on the body by getting appropriate vaccines. In 2006, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued a "science advisory" informing medical professionals that heart patients who get an annual flu vaccine have better health outcomes. The National Kidney Foundation recommends that patients with kidney disease stay current with vaccines for flu, pneumonia, tetanus, and hepatitis B. Individuals living with HIV/AIDS already have a compromised immune system, making them more susceptible to infection. Immunization is important to this population. For diabetics, increased levels of sugar n the blood make people more prone to infection, so immunization is important to diabetics as well.
For adults in certain professions, immunization is essential to protect them and others with whom they come in contact. Healthcare professionals should keep up with vaccines to protect themselves and their patients. Teachers, childcare workers, parents, grandparents and other caregivers who work with small children should get a whooping cough booster. There were 3,000 cases of whooping cough in Ohio in 2010 and the disease can be very serious in infants and toddlers. In addition, Americans planning foreign travel should check with their doctors to see what vaccines might be advisable.
Workplace productivity is enhanced when employees adhere to an adult vaccination schedule. Influenza especially can take its toll in the workplace when an infected employee comes to work sick and spreads the virus to others. Healthcare costs are contained when workers stay healthier, and they make a greater contribution to the bottom line as well.
Some vaccines are recommended for adults of any age, while others are needed at a certain point. Young adults heading to college should have a vaccine to prevent meningitis, a potentially deadly disease which has cropped up on college campuses throughout Ohio in recent years. The human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV), which prevents genital warts and cervical cancer, is recommended for young women up to age 26. Because the vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of anal cancer in both men and women, the Centers for Disease Control also recommend it for male adolescents and young men.
Adults 60 and older can prevent or lessen the severity of painful shingles with a vaccination. Older adults in particular should also have a pneumonia vaccination.
Confused about which vaccines you need? The Centers for Disease Control offers a useful quiz for figuring out what vaccines you may need as an adult: http://www2a.cdc.gov/nip/adultImmSched/.