Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and receiving regular health screenings will improve your overall well-being, but adult vaccinations also play an important role.
Vaccination is one of the safest, most useful preventive-care methods available today. You may be susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases because of your job, hobbies, travel plans, age, health status, and past medical history, but when you get vaccinated, you protect yourself, your family, and the public. People who cannot receive certain vaccinations, such as pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems, also rely on the vaccinated people around them to offer a protective halo.
The CDC recommends that all adults over the age of 18 receive certain vaccines to protect against the spread of illnesses. Let's take a look at five prominent adult vaccinations.
1. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection. Both men and women can contract HPV, and in most cases, it goes away on its own. When it doesn't, however, it can cause abnormal tissue growths, cell changes, and even cervical and other cancers.
- Vaccines: Three vaccines are available to prevent HPV infections, but they do not treat current HPV infections or diseases.
- When: It is recommended to begin this three-dose vaccine series before age 13 and complete it by age 26.
- Who: Women over 18 and some men up to age 26.
2. Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
Three contagious viral diseases, measles (rubeola), mumps, and rubella (German measles), have long been associated with serious health complications. Since the invention of the MMR vaccine in 1971, the number of measles, mumps, and rubella cases has drastically fallen.
- Vaccine: M-M-R II is a live virus vaccine for vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella.
- When: One dose followed by a booster four weeks later.
- Who: Adults 18 years and older, especially those who work in health care or are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
3. Tdap/Td Vaccine
Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) are very serious, but preventable, bacterial infections. One dose of Tdap is routinely given at age 11 or 12, but people who didn't get a Tdap vaccine when they were young should get it as soon as possible.
- Vaccine: The Td vaccine is a Tdap booster that helps to continue protecting against tetanus and diphtheria, but not pertussis.
- When: Every 10 years.
- Who: Adults ages 19 to 64, health care workers, and anyone who has close contact with a baby 12 months or younger should receive a Td vaccine. Additionally, pregnant mothers should receive a Tdap dose in the third trimester of each pregnancy.
4. Pneumococcal Vaccine
Pneumococcal disease causes ear infections, bloodstream infections, meningitis, and pneumonia. Sometimes pneumococcal disease can even be life-threatening or result in long-term health problems, such as brain damage or hearing loss.
- Vaccine: The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine can protect against 23 types of pneumococcal bacteria.
- When: Every five years.
- Who: Recommended for adults 19 to 64 years old who have asthma or other lung illnesses, have a weakened immune system, are already at high risk for pneumococcal, or smoke cigarettes; all adults age 65 and older.
5. Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Vaccine
Shingles occur when the chicken pox virus becomes active within your nerve tissues. It's common in adults over age 50 and individuals of all ages with a weakened immune system.
- Vaccine: The shingles vaccine, Zostavax, is specifically designed to protect people against shingles.
- When: One-time vaccine.
- Who: It is recommended for people 60 years old and older to prevent shingles.
Adults don't see the doctor as regularly as kids do, and this contributes to them having a less-regulated vaccination schedule as they get older. Above all else, communicate with your doctor about what is most important for your individual needs. There may be factors you're not aware of that can contribute to overall decision-making. It pays, at least, to be cognizant of the most common illnesses and the vaccines used to prevent them.