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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...

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.

9. You’re going back to college. The downturn has forced many adults back to school. But many colleges require proof of routine vaccinations. You may not have those records. Your parents may not have those records. And your childhood doctor may no longer be practicing. It’s OK to repeat a vaccine. But, Wharton says, it’s “a hassle and cost” that could be prevented by keeping good records.

10. You work in the health care profession. Health care providers are exposed to all sorts of potential infections, as well as blood and bodily fluids. Most are required to have not only a complete vaccination series and evidence of immunity, but also to get annual influenza vaccination. This includes things like measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), and hepatitis B.

11. You’re sexually active with a number of partners. The hepatitis B vaccine is highly recommended. Hepatitis B can be transmitted from person to person through contact with blood, semen, and vaginal fluid. It is 50-100 times more easily to be infected by hepatitis B than by HIV. Your partner may not appear ill, but could be carrying the disease.

12. You have asthma, heart, lung disease, diabetes, or other chronic disease. Or you smoke cigarettes. Or your immune system is otherwise compromised. The pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent serious disease such as pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infection caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. Get it because you may be at increased risk for these infections, Schaffner says.

Reviewed on March 15, 2011

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