Adult Immunizations: Are You Protected?
The flu vaccine, tetanus boosters, hepatitis shots -- why adults still need vaccinations.
Why Do Adults Need Vaccinations? continued...
However, that immunity doesn't necessarily last forever. Those antibodies
may fade away with time.
"After age 30 or so, the potency of immunity wanes," Wasserman says.
"In the same way that your muscle strength fades after middle age, the
vaccine immunity that protected you when you were young loses its strength when
you're in your 40s, and 50s, and 60s."
Happily, the solution is simple: get a booster shot. This is a way of
reminding your immune system how to fight the microbe.
In addition to boosters, you need other vaccines as you get older and your
risk of getting certain diseases increases.
Vaccinations Benefit Others
Obviously, getting a vaccination protects you from getting sick, but
vaccines have a greater benefit: they protect the people around you from
It's a phenomenon called "herd immunity." If most people in a group
are vaccinated against a disease, even the people who aren't vaccinated are
much less likely to get it.
This reason for vaccination is important, because vaccines can be dangerous
for some people. For instance, some are too sick to handle a vaccine or are
allergic to it, but if the people around them are vaccinated, they are more
likely to be safe. "It's an indirect way of protecting them," says
There's also a flip side. If you live with someone with a compromised immune
system from a disease or its treatment -- like chemotherapy -- tell your doctor
before you get vaccinated. The weakened version of a virus in a vaccine could
spread from the vaccinated person to the ill family member. Sometimes, even the
weakened virus is dangerous for a person with a compromised immune system.