Regardless of age, we all need immunizations to protect against serious and sometimes deadly, diseases.
Protection from vaccines you received as a child can wear off over time, and more vaccines are now available.
Vaccination rates for children have steadily risen well over 90 percent the past few years, but the rates for older adults are still down, and on any given year, only about 45 percent of people get a flu shot, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
In addition to an annual flu vaccine, health officials say adults need a tetanus booster every 10 years. People 50 and older are urged to get a shingles vaccine, while people 65 and older should get vaccinated to help prevent pneumonia. Hepatitis A and B immunizations are also recommended for adults.
“It’s important because it helps us prevent getting these horrible illnesses like Hepatitis B and tetanus. As we get older and get exposed again because as we age, you may have had the vaccine when you were younger, but those vaccines do wane in their efficacy as we get older so you need boosters as you get older,” Corpus Christi Medical Center emergency room assistant medical director Dr. Kelly Campbell.
For some adults such as the elderly or immune-compromised, getting vaccinated could make a difference between life or death.
“A lot of people can get very sick, and there is even death reported because not having a vaccine and not having immunity to these diseases that are preventable from getting a lot worse,” Campbell said.
If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, vaccination is an important step in keeping you and your baby healthy.
“A new mother can pass the immunity on to her child in utero. The vaccine most pregnant women get is the TDAP vaccine, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pertussis is commonly known as the whooping cough and can be troubling for an infant to get and actually make them very sick and put them in the hospital as well,” Campbell said.
Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, health departments and other locations.
Why vaccines are important for adults:
In the U.S., vaccines have greatly reduced or eliminated many infectious diseases that once routinely killed or harmed infants, children, and adults. However, the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases still exist and you can still get these diseases if you aren’t vaccinated.
Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent. Many adults even die from these diseases. By getting vaccinated, you can help protect yourself from much of this unnecessary suffering.
Even if you received the vaccines you needed as a child, the protection from some vaccines can wear off. You may also be at risk for other diseases due to your job, lifestyle, travel or health conditions.
Find out what vaccines you may need based on different risk factors.
Vaccines can lower your chance of getting certain diseases.
Vaccines work with your body’s natural defenses to help you safely develop immunity to disease.
This lowers your chances of getting certain diseases and suffering from their complications. For instance:
- Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer.
- HPV vaccine lowers your risk of cervical cancer.
- Flu vaccine lowers your risk of flu-related heart attacks or other flu-related complications from existing health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung disease.
- Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough).
- A Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. In addition, women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks of pregnancy.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, vaccination is an important step in keeping you and your baby healthy. During pregnancy, you share everything with your baby. By staying up to date with vaccines before and during pregnancy, you can pass along protection that will help protect your baby from some diseases during the first few months after birth. Vaccines given before pregnancy may also help protect you from serious disease while you are pregnant, including rubella, which can cause miscarriages and birth defects.
- Talk to your doctor about other vaccines you may need before, during, and after becoming pregnant.
- Vaccines lower your chance of spreading disease.
- Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition. They rely on you to help prevent the spread of disease.
- Infants, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious disease. For example, newborn babies are too young to be vaccinated against whooping cough. Unfortunately, whooping cough can be very dangerous or even deadly for them. Pregnant women should get the Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy to help protect their babies from whooping cough. Anyone who is around babies should be up to date with their whooping cough vaccine.
Where to go
- Your doctor’s office
If you have a doctor who you see regularly, you can schedule an appointment to talk about vaccines you and your family may need — and to get vaccinated.
Many local pharmacies offer most recommended vaccines for adults, as well as some travel vaccines. If you plan on getting vaccinated at a pharmacy, consider calling ahead.