Yes, you’re an adult. But have you had your shots?
Vaccinations are not just kid stuff.
Adults—even young, healthy ones—are susceptible to serious and sometimes deadly diseases that could be prevented by simple immunizations, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control cautions.
“There is a misconception among many adults that vaccines are just for children,” said Dan Arnold, MD, a primary care doctor at Emerald Physicians in Hyannis.
Two of the most valuable immunizations for adults are the shingles vaccine and a combined diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough) booster, he said.
Yet only 24 percent of adults ages 60 and older had received a shingles shot and only 17 percent of adults older than 19 were vaccinated for DTAP in 2013, according to the National Public Health Information Coalition.
Similarly, only 21 percent of adults younger than 65 who are at high risk for complications from pneumococcal disease are vaccinated, the coalition added.
The result: Each year tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized, and even die as a result of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines,” the coalition emphasized during August’s National Immunization Awareness Month.
In fact, about 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S. More than 200,000 are hospitalized solely for influenza and its complications, mostly affecting those 65 and older, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Together, pneumonia and influenza are the fifth-leading cause of death in older adults.
In addition, the CDC reports that 1.25 million people are infected with the hepatitis B virus annually.
Besides hepatitis B, the National Public Health Information Coalition recommends adults get vaccinated for hepatitis A, chickenpox, measles, mumps, and rubella. Recent measles outbreaks are a reminder to check your vaccination status and get your shots.
is strongly recommended to protect against meningococcal disease, particularly for college students.
Meningococcal vaccine is strongly recommended to protect against meningococcal disease, particularly for college students.
According to the CDC:
- Seasonal flu can lead to pneumonia and chronic health conditions leading to hospitalization, disability and even death.
- Hepatitis A and B can cause chronic liver infection, cancer and failure, as well as er, kidney, pancreatic and blood disorders.
- Measles can cause ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis and even death.
- Shingles can lead to severe pain lasting months or years, pneumonia, loss of eyesight and hearing – and in some cases, death.
- Tetanus causes broken bones, breathing difficulty and possibly death.
- Pertussis can cause rib fractures, pneumonia and death
- Pneumococcal disease can lead to lung, middle ear and sinus infections, heart problems, brain damage, loss of hearing, loss of arms or legs and death.
- Meningococcal disease causes brain damage, loss of arms or legs, hearing loss, seizures, strokes and even death
The CDC notes that most health insurance plans—including Medicare and Medicaid—cover the cost of recommended vaccines for adults. It recommends that you check with your insurance provider for details and a list of covered vaccine providers. Since 2010, all private health plans are required to cover all vaccines recommended on the Immunization Schedule for Adults.
As long as you receive your vaccines from an in-network provider, you should not be asked for a copay, the CDC emphasized. If you do not have health insurance, the CDC recommends you visit www.healthcare.gov to learn more about your options.
Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics and health departments. To find a vaccine provider near you, go to vaccine.healthmap.org/.
Vaccines are tested and monitored for safety before they are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In addition, the CDC continually monitors vaccines after they are licensed.
“Most side effects are usually mild and temporary,” according to the CDC. “The most common side effects include soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site. Severe side effects are very rare.”