Vaccinations: Not Just for Kids
According to the American Lung Association, influenza and pneumonia – including pneumococcal pneumonia – were the 9th leading cause of death in the country in 2010. It is also estimated that 900,000 Americans contract pneumococcal pneumonia annually, resulting in as many as 400,000 hospitalizations. This can be prevented with vaccinations, including the flu shot and the PPSV vaccine, which protects against 23 strains of pneumococcal bacteria. Older adults with chronic lung diseases and adults who smoke are specifically at risk for illnesses that could trigger respiratory infections and should consider being vaccinated.
The HPV vaccine is recommended for teen boys and girls who didn’t get the vaccine when they were younger, young women through age 26, and young men through age 21. The vaccine is given as a series of three shots over a six-month period and can protect against cervical cancers in women. The Gardasil variety also protects against genital warts and other cancers of the reproductive system, and it is the only brand that is available for males. Diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccinations are available for children and adults. While you were likely vaccinated for these illnesses as a child, an adult booster of Td, a tetanus-diphtheria vaccine, is recommended every 10 years.
According to the Center for Disease Control, women should receive the Tdap vaccination, which is similar to the Td vaccine but also offers protection against pertussis, during each pregnancy, preferably in the third trimester.
If you’re unsure about adult vaccinations, the Center for Disease Control website is an excellent source for determining when you are in need of a disease-fighting vaccine. Also, be sure to discuss vaccinations with your doctor during your annual physical.