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Vaccines Health Center

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12 Reasons Why Adults Need Vaccines

Vaccines aren't just for kids. Here's why grown-ups need them, too.

12 Reasons continued...

3. Some vaccines are just for adults. The shingles vaccine is a good example. Shingles (also known as herpes zoster or zoster) is caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus. It can cause a severe and painful skin rash. The risk for shingles increases as a person ages. The vaccine is recommended for adults 60 and older.

4. You may need them when you travel. Headed to the developing world? You may run into illnesses you’d never find at home. The yellow fever vaccination is required for travel to parts of sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. The Saudi Arabian government also requires the meningococcal vaccination -- but only for travel during the hajj, or annual pilgrimage to Mecca. You can check the CDC's web site for details about what you may need for your destination.

5. Everyone needs a flu vaccine, every year. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine annually if they do not have a medical reason not to receive the vaccine. Each year’s vaccination is designed to protect against the three or four strains of influenza anticipated to be most commonly circulated in the upcoming flu season.

6. Your kids have set an example. Most children don’t have a choice about getting shots. But why should they be the only one getting stuck with a needle? Want to show them that prevention through vaccination works? “Mom, dad, grandma, and grandpa should get their vaccinations just as children do,” Schaffner says.

7. You didn’t get fully vaccinated as a child. Not everyone was, or is, fully vaccinated as a child. If you didn’t get vaccines for things like measles, mumps, and rubella or chickenpox (or varicella) as a child -- or any of those diseases themselves -- you need them as an adult. And don’t forget. Some older adults were born at a time when children weren’t vaccinated “as comprehensively as we vaccinate people today,” Schaffner says.

8. Newer vaccines have been developed. Some vaccinations recommended for adults are fairly new. For instance, the FDA approved the first HPV vaccine and shingles vaccine in 2006. Although the rate of adults being vaccinated with newer vaccines is increasing, awareness remains a challenge, Wharton says.

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