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Vaccines Health Center

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4 Lifesaving Vaccines Adults Need

4 lifesaving shots you might be missing.


3. HPV vaccine

  • What it does: Reduces a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer and genital warts by 70 to 80 percent by protecting against four strains of genital human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus.
  • Who should get it: The vaccine is approved and covered by many insurers for females between ages 9 and 26, since girls and women this age are less likely to have already been infected by the virus; the shot can only prevent — not treat — HPV. But there may be good reason for sexually active women over 26 to pay for the immunization. (The cost varies but is often $150 to $200, plus an administration fee.) Even if you already have HPV, for instance, getting vaccinated may prevent infection from more serious, possibly deadly strains with more crippling symptoms. Talk to your gynecologist to determine if the vaccine makes sense for you.
  • How often: Three shots administered over a six-month period provide long-lasting immunity. (Research is underway to determine if a later booster shot is necessary.)

4. Tdap booster

  • What it does: Protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis) — diseases that can result in hospitalizations and even death.
  • Who should get it: All adults 19 to 64 (except pregnant women).
  • How often: Before 2005, adults were advised to get a Td shot — which protects against tetanus and diphtheria only — every 10 years. Since the new booster protects against tetanus, diphtheria, andwhooping cough, make sure to get the Tdap instead of the Td when your decade's up.

Originally published on August 18, 2009

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