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Just So You Know - Issue 1 - 2022

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Vaccinations for adults: Protect yourself against hepatitis A and B, pertussis, tetanus, and cervical cancer with adult immunizations

Most adults can recall getting vaccinated as children. But at what age do you stop needing vaccinations? 

There is no cutoff age for vaccinations. In fact, getting vaccinated is a lifelong commitment, according to the Immunization Action Coalition. 

“Many adults make the mistake of assuming that the vaccines they had as children will protect them for life. While this may be true for some vaccines, immunity can decrease over time as we age,” said Dr. Melanie Mouzoo, the Managing Physician for Immunization Practices at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. 

“For some adults, newer vaccines weren’t available when they were children. Adult immunizations are the safest, most effective way to protect you against potentially life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis A and B, pertussis and tetanus, as well as cervical cancer,” Mouzoo said.

Many vaccines are readily available and offer a cost-effective way to prevent disease. The current push for COVID-19 vaccinations reminds us that getting vaccinated helps prevents disease and death. Here some things to consider when it comes to adult immunizations:

  • Adults in their 50s and 60s and adults whose immune systems are compromised have a higher risk of vaccine-preventable diseases and should take every precaution to get immunized. Influenza and pneumonia together are the fifth leading cause of death among American adults 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • People 65 years of age and older and those with chronic medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease and asthma are at high risk for serious illnesses triggered by pneumococcal disease. You can reduce the risk of pneumonia by having a pneumococcal vaccine.
  • The flu season is probably the most popular time to think about immunizations. Five to 20 percent of Americans are infected with the flu each year. Flu shots help reduce absence at work and social events and decrease the spread of flu in the home and at work.
  • Severe complications of mumps are more common in adults than in children. Healthcare workers, college students, childcare workers, international travelers, women of childbearing age and people born after 1957 that do not have proof of immunity should receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A is the most common vaccine-preventable disease in people who travel to other countries. 
  • Approximately 11% of reported cases of tetanus are fatal. For adults, a tetanus-diphtheria shot every 10 years ensures protection against these diseases.
  • Adults in contact with infants less than one year such as parents, grandparents younger than age 65, and childcare providers and healthcare professionals who have not received a dose of Tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) should be prioritized to receive the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). 
  • If rubella or German measles occurs during pregnancy, it may result in a severe birth defect, miscarriage or stillbirth. Most people receive the MMR immunization, which protects measles, mumps and rubella, as children. If you plan on getting pregnant and are unsure about your immunization history, speak with your provider about your risk concerns.
  • Females ages 9 to 26 and older should be immunized against the human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. 
  • Keep track of your immunizations with your own personal immunization record card. This way you and your healthcare provider can make sure you’re fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases and save you a needless revaccination in a health emergency. Ask your provider for an immunization card and be sure to take it to every health visit.