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Adult Immunizations: Are You Protected?

The flu vaccine, tetanus boosters, hepatitis shots -- why adults still need vaccinations.

Future Adult Vaccines

In addition to the vaccinations above, a few vaccines are likely to be available soon.

  • Shingles . Shingles is a painful disease caused by the varicella virus, which also causes chickenpox A new vaccine for shingles -- Zostavax -- is actually just a double dose of the chickenpox vaccine. As of May 2006 it has not yet been FDA-approved.

    "The initial report on the shingles vaccine is very encouraging," says Wasserman. "Shingles is a terrible disease, especially for older people."

    Many other vaccines are in much earlier stages of development, including:

    • Strep: Some preliminary research into a vaccine against Group A streptococcus shows promise. One study found that, in a group of 28 healthy adults, the vaccine seemed safe and appeared to trigger an immune response.
    • Genital Herpes: Researchers are also working on vaccines against genital herpes. Two 2002 studies found that one vaccine radically reduced the rate of herpes infection in women who were not previously infected with the virus. However, in women who already had the common herpes virus that causes cold sores the vaccine had no effect. Strangely, the vaccine had no effect in men.

Taking Charge of Your Health

Given the importance of regular adult vaccinations it's crucial to keep track of your immunization history and stay current with your vaccinations.

Unfortunately, many people don't. They simply assume their doctor will tell them when they need a shot, but that's not necessarily the case. Most people change doctors many times in their lives and their current doctor may have no idea about their immunization history.

So from now on, make a note when you get a vaccination. If don't know which vaccinations you've had recently, talk to your doctor. To be on the safe side, it may be time for you to roll up that sleeve, stick out your arm, and wince.

Reviewed on June 06, 2006
Edited by Louise Chang, MD

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