Most people associate vaccines with early childhood, but immunizations are necessary for good health at every age.
The types of vaccines adults need largely depend on their age and overall health. Previous vaccination history also plays a role—for example, adults who haven’t had chicken pox or received the two-dose chicken pox vaccine as children may need another immunization to protect against the disease.
Your primary care physician can help you develop a personalized immunization schedule during your annual wellness visit. In the meantime, remember these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Adult Immunization Schedule:
Every year, adults need a flu shot. The reason? Not only does immunity fade over time, but the influenza virus is constantly evolving. The vaccine is updated annually to target the newest and most threatening strains of the virus, ensuring that people have the most up-to-date protection. Get vaccinated as soon as the flu shot becomes available, which is usually in September.
Every 10 years, adults need a booster to protect against tetanus. Also known as lockjaw, tetanus is a serious bacterial infection that can cause muscle spasms, as well as difficulty swallowing and breathing. The tetanus vaccine is a combination vaccine—you’ll either get a vaccine that protects against tetanus and diphtheria (Td) or tetanus, diphtheria and whooping-cough-causing pertussis (Tdap). The CDC recommends getting one Tdap vaccine in late adolescence or early adulthood and following that with regularly scheduled Td boosters.
If you’re age 60 or older, get vaccinated against shingles. The varicella-zoster virus responsible for shingles is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once you’ve had chicken pox, the virus lies dormant within your body and may reappear as shingles, a virus that can cause fatigue, a low-grade fever and a painful red rash. The one-time shingles vaccine helps protect older adults—who are at greatest risk—from developing the shingles.
If you’re age 65 or older, it’s time to arm yourself against pneumonia. Two one-dose vaccines help protect against pneumonia: Prevnar 13® and Pneumovax®23. Plan to get the Prevnar 13 vaccine and then follow it up one year later with the Pneumovax 23 immunization.
The Helpful Herd
One additional reason to get vaccinated: Staying up to date on immunizations not only safeguards your health, but the health of those around you.
Remember the recent measles outbreak? In 2014, 667 cases of measles were reported in the United States, even though health officials declared measles “eliminated” in 2000. Travelers who are not vaccinated have always carried measles into the U.S. When most people in a community have been vaccinated, the disease cannot spread easily. This is called “herd immunity.”
When too few people have been vaccinated, herd immunity does not work. Everyone who is not vaccinated is at risk, including babies who are too young to receive certain vaccinations and people of all ages who may be unable to get vaccines because of health problems. When everyone who is able receives vaccines on schedule, the risk of disease outbreaks is lower, offering an extra layer of protection for all kids and adults.
Please note: Not all of Urgent Team's urgent care centers provide all of the vaccinations mentioned above. Please call to confirm before visiting the center.