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Vaccines: Not Just Kid Stuff

Adults need vaccines too

August is National Immunization Month, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is highlighting the need for vaccinations at all ages. For many states, the public health focus has been primarily on vaccinations for children and teens, but adults need vaccinations too.

I was a founding member of the New Mexico Immunization Coalition and the tag line has been “Immunize Our Kids” for nearly two decades. Thanks to the efforts of HealthInsight staff, the coalition’s focus has broadened to include vaccinations for adults, and they are in the process of changing this tag line to be age inclusive.

When I was in my early 20s, I had the terrible experience of having shingles. I had red, oozing blisters across my midsection that were very painful and took many weeks to completely heal. Not an experience I would like to repeat. So, I was thrilled when I learned of the shingles vaccine when it first was made available and I am even more thrilled that the newer vaccine, while two doses, is even more effective. I am now eligible for the vaccine and will take advantage of this protection.

HealthInsight has been actively engaged in promoting vaccines for adults, especially older adults. To highlight the need for adult immunizations, please join us for a webinar on adult immunizations, Reducing Mortality, Morbidity, and Healthcare Costs through Adult Immunization, presented by Litjen (L.J.) Tan, MS, PhD, chief strategy officer for the Immunization Action Coalition. The webinar takes place Aug. 29, noon-1 p.m. MT/11 a.m.-noon PT. Registration is open now.

The current CDC recommendations for adults are below.

Everyone six months or older should receive a yearly flu vaccination to protect against the upcoming season’s flu strains. For some people, like those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or heart disease, flu can have serious complications, so being protected is even more important.

Adults 65 and older and younger adults with chronic conditions should receive one or more pneumococcal vaccinations to protect against pneumonia.

Adults 50 years and older should be vaccinated against shingles. Shingles is a painful rash that can emerge in adulthood. Varicella zoster virus causes shingles and is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox can develop shingles later in life.

All adults should get one dose of Tdap vaccine (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis – “whooping cough”) if they did not get a dose as teens. Women should get a Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy, preferably in their third trimester. Adults who will be around infants younger than six months need to have a Tdap to protect them, as infants are too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough. Want to hear what whooping cough sounds like?

Adults may also need other vaccinations such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV) depending on their age, occupation, travel or medical conditions.

Most of these vaccines are covered by insurance, including Medicare, and can be administered by a pharmacist.

 

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