During the flu season, it’s hard to miss the messaging that “You should get a flu shot.” Now is the time to understand why you should be up-to-date on all your vaccinations, take inventory of other vaccinations that are recommended and know where to find more information.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls vaccinations one of the top ten public health achievements of the 20th century because vaccinations have prevented millions of diseases, deaths, and hospitalizations. Unfortunately, over 50,000 Americans die annually from diseases that could have been prevented with vaccinations. The cost of caring for Americans with these diseases was $8.95 billion in 2015 (Health Affairs, 2016).
There are 8 vaccines recommended for all adults across their lifespan.
Maintaining your immune health continues beyond childhood. There are currently 8 vaccines recommended for all adults across their lifespan as well as another 5 vaccines recommended for adults with certain lifestyles or high-risk medical conditions. These vaccinations include: influenza, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis(Tdap), mumps- measles-rubella (MMR), varicella, herpes zoster(shingles), human papillomavirus (HPV) for males and females, pneumococcal (the PCV13 and PPSV23), Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, meningococcal (meningitis) and haemophilus influenza.
Vaccination recommendations are individualized on age, immunization history, lifestyle, occupation, travel plans, health history and strength of your immune system. Adults who are age 65 and older, immunosuppressed, smoke, abuse alcohol, or have a chronic illness such as diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease, are at a higher risk of contracting a pneumococcal disease such as pneumonia and meningitis. Annually, pneumococcal disease accounts for nearly 1 million cases, 400,000 hospitalizations and over 50,000 deaths (CDC). Yet, 40% of the elderly and 80% of high-risk adults remain unvaccinated against pneumococcal disease (CDC).
The CDC website provides immunization tables for children and adults as well as “The Adult Vaccine Quiz” (https://www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched/) which helps you navigate which immunizations are applicable to you by age and medical conditions. Be sure to take this quiz and discuss the recommendations with your primary care physician. Guidelines exist that stipulate when some adults should or should not get vaccinations such as those who are pregnant or undergoing chemotherapy. Two other informative websites, vaccines.gov and vaccinateyourfamily.org, are great immunization resources.
Remember, vaccines don’t only protect you but also your loved ones such as young children whose immune systems are not fully developed, and aging parents whose immune systems are weakening.
Author: Sherri Porterfield, RN, MSN is a Patient Navigator and Community Education Liaison at our Green Valley office. She was awarded a communications degree from the University of New Hampshire, her nursing degree from Texas Woman’s University and masters in nursing education from Sacred Heart University. Sherri has 22 years of experience working with the geriatric population, teaching them how to maintain their quality of life and independence. Her passion to educate is a gift that she freely shares with patients and staff. She is active in the community and has volunteered her time and expertise serving as a guest lecturer in Green Valley and Tucson.