The flu causes thousands of preventable hospitalizations and deaths each year, early vaccinations could be the key
But what about other vaccinations? Do you think of them as something for kids? You aren’t alone. And it’s true, a number of vaccinations are recommended for young children as well as preteens and teenagers. These vaccinations have provided an enormous benefit to public health by preventing diseases that were common and sometimes deadly in the past, including polio, rubella, and whooping cough.
But there are several vaccinations recommended for healthy adults as well. And over time, these recommendations change. Here is a quick rundown.
Vaccinations for adults
According to the CDC, adults should consider receiving vaccinations to prevent
- influenza (during the fall and winter)
- a certain type of bacterial pneumonia (called pneumococcal pneumonia)
In addition, adults should have vaccinations to prevent a number of infections if they were not received during childhood. Examples include the MMR vaccine (for measles, mumps, and rubella), HPV (human papilloma virus), chickenpox, and hepatitis.
Additional or earlier vaccinations may be recommended if you have certain medical problems, such as having an immune system weakened by illness or medications.
Shingles is a re-activation of chickenpox, so anyone who had chickenpox in the past is at risk. Many who don’t recall having chickenpox have been exposed to the virus that causes it and are at risk as well.
Symptoms of shingles include an itchy, burning rash over a patch of skin lasting up to 10 days. Complications include vision loss (if the skin near the eye is affected), pneumonia, and chronic pain in the area of the rash (called post-herpetic neuralgia). Shingles tends to occur in older adults, affecting an estimated one in three people over a lifetime.
Since 1995 a vaccination has been available for chickenpox, so the incidence of shingles should fall dramatically in future generations. But in 2006, a vaccine was approved to prevent shingles for those who already had chickenpox. More than 20 million people have received this vaccine.