Adult Immunizations

As kids back then, we often hate getting our shots done. It hurts a lot... even after the deed is done. When we reached adulthood, we sigh with relief. "Alas, I am finally done with all those torture being done to me!"

On the contrary, vaccination can continue up to adulthood. Some of us may think otherwise. It is a good thing that somehow, our Department of Health is promoting awareness on Adult Vaccinations.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of Cure" - that's what vaccines do. It may not 100% prevent a disease BUT it helps BOOST our immune system to fight off that disease.

Listed below are frequently asked questions on adult vaccinations which is also a part of the DOH Immunization Program.

Are there vaccines that protect adults against communicable diseases?

Yes! Immunizations are available that protect adults against:

  • Diphtheria.
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Influenza (flu).
  • Measles.
  • Mumps.
  • Pertussis (whooping cough).
  • Pneumococcal disease.
  • Rubella (German measles).
  • Shingles (herpes zoster).
  • Tetanus (lockjaw).
  • Varicella (chickenpox).

Consult your health care provider or local health department to find out which immunizations are recommended for you.

Why are immunizations important?

Some of these illnesses do not have a cure, and all may cause serious health problems or even death. Vaccines are among the safest medicines available. They are very effective and can prevent the suffering and costs associated with these preventable diseases.

Which vaccinations do adults need?

  • Tdap/Td:
    • All adults need a tetanus and diphtheria (Td) booster shot every 10 years. Additionally, adults aged <65>tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination for one Td booster.
  • MMR:
    • Adults born after 1956 who are not immune to measles, mumps, or rubella should be immunized.
  • HPV:
    • Women aged 26 years or younger should be immunized against human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer.
  • Pneumococcal:
    • All adults aged 65 or older, as well as persons aged 2-64 years who have diabetes or chronic heart, lung, liver, or kidney disorders, need protection against pneumococcal disease.
  • Influenza (flu):
    • Flu vaccination is recommended for all adults aged 50 years or older, women who will be pregnant during flu season (October-March), and residents of long-term care facilities. Other adults who should seek a yearly flu vaccine include health care workers and those who live with high-risk persons, including those who live with or who provide care for children <6>
  • Hepatitis B:

    Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for adults in certain high-risk groups, such as:

    • Health care workers and public safety workers exposed to blood on the job.
    • Household and sexual contacts of persons with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection.
    • Sexually active people who are not in long-term, mutually monogamous relationships.
    • People seeking evaluation or treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).
    • Men who have sex with men.
    • Injection drug users.
    • Travelers to countries where HBV infection is common.
    • People with end-stage renal disease.
    • HIV-infected persons.

    Hepatitis B vaccine is also recommended for anyone seeking protection from hepatitis B.

    To increase vaccination rates among people at highest risk for HBV infection, hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all adults in the following settings:

    • STD treatment facilities.
    • HIV testing and treatment facilities.
    • Facilities providing drug abuse treatment and prevention services.
    • Health care settings targeting services to injection drug users or men who have sex with men.
    • Correctional facilities.
    • End-stage renal disease programs and facilities for chronic hemodialysis patients.
    • Institutions and non-residential child care facilities for persons with developmental disabilities.
  • Hepatitis A:

    Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for adults in certain high risk groups, including:

    • Travelers to countries where hepatitis A is common.
    • People with chronic liver disease.
    • People who have clotting-factor disorders, such as hemophilia.
    • Men who have sex with men.
    • Users of injection and non-injection illegal drugs.
  • Varicella (chickenpox):

    Varicella vaccine is recommended for all adults, including:

    • Teachers of young children and child care workers.
    • Residents and staff in institutional settings.
    • Military personnel.
    • Non-pregnant women of childbearing age.
    • International travelers.
    • Health care workers.
    • Family members of immuno-compromised persons who have not had chickenpox and have not been vaccinated against chickenpox.
  • Meningococcal:

    Meningococcal vaccine is recommended for:

    • Adults who do not have a spleen.
    • Adults who have terminal complement component deficiencies (immune system disorder).
    • First year college students living in dormitories.
    • Military recruits.
    • Certain laboratory workers.
    • Persons who travel to or live in countries in which meningococcal disease is common.
  • Herpes Zoster (shingles):
    • Adults 60 years of age and older should receive one dose of herpes zoster vaccine whether or not they have had shingles. Persons with chronic medical conditions may be vaccinated unless a contraindication or precaution exists for their condition.

Where can I get my immunizations?

Your doctor, nurse, or clinic may carry immunizations. Additionally, your county health department or local hospital may administer influenza, pneumococcal, hepatitis A, and hepatitis B vaccines. Many pharmacies offer these and other immunizations. Clinics may also be available in shopping malls, grocery stores, senior centers, and other community settings.

What do these vaccines cost?

Out-of-pocket immunization costs may vary depending on your insurance coverage. Check with your doctor or clinic and your health insurance plan to determine your costs. For Medicare beneficiaries, both influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations are paid for by Medicare Part B if your health care provider accepts the Medicare-approved payment. Shingles vaccine is covered under Medicare Part D.

Are there side effects to these immunizations?

Vaccines are among the safest medicines available. Some common side effects are a sore arm or low-grade fever. As with any medicine, there is a very small risk that a serious problems could occur after getting a vaccine. However, the potential risks from the diseases vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccines themselves.

What vaccines do I need if I’m traveling abroad?

Contact your doctor or your county health department as early as possible to find out which immunizations you may need. Vaccines against certain diseases, such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, and typhoid fever are recommended for different countries. The time required to receive all immunizations will depend on whether you need one shot or a series of shots. You can also call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information line for international travelers at 1-877-394-8747 or visit CDC's Travelers' Health Website for up-to-date information on immunization recommendations for international travelers.

Should I have a personal immunization record?

Yes! A permanent immunization record should be kept by every adult. It will help you and your doctor ensure that you are fully protected. It can also prevent revaccination during a health emergency or when you change doctors. Ask your doctor for an immunization record, and be sure to take it with you every time you visit your doctor so that it can be reviewed and updated

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