The month of August has been designated as National Immunization Awareness Month. As a partnering organization, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is helping to promote the importance of immunization in keeping our communities healthy.
Each year, thousands of adults in the United States suffer serious health problems from vaccine-preventable diseases including influenza (flu), whooping cough, hepatitis A and B, shingles, and even cervical cancer. Most people don’t realize that adults need immunizations, too. While many recognize that a flu vaccine is recommended every year, few adults are aware of the need for other vaccines to help keep them healthy.
Protection from some childhood immunizations wears off over time, leaving adults vulnerable to disease. For example, there has been a rise in cases of whooping cough in the last few years with over 41,000 cases being reported in 2012. Protection from the DTaP vaccine given to children to prevent whooping cough doesn’t last into adulthood, so all adults are now recommended to get one dose of Tdap vaccine. Other vaccines may be recommended for those who weren’t immunized as children.
Adults may also need certain vaccines based on their age, job, hobbies, travel, or health conditions. Some adults, including older adults and those with chronic health conditions, may be at higher risk for serious complications from vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, because the chance of getting shingles increases with age, CDC recommends that adults get the shingles vaccine once they turn 60. People with diabetes, heart disease, and COPD or asthma, even if well managed, are more likely to have complications from the flu. To prevent possible complications like pneumonia, people with these chronic conditions should receive a pneumococcal vaccine in addition to an annual flu vaccine.
Getting vaccinated is an important step we can all take to protect ourselves and loved ones from vaccine-preventable diseases. Yet too many adults are not up to date. Talk with your healthcare provider to find out which vaccines are right for you.
Adult immunizations are necessary not only to protect the individual receiving the vaccine, but also to prevent the spread of certain diseases to those most vulnerable includiing infants too young to be fully vaccinated and those with weakened immune systems. They don’t have a choice, but you do.
Vaccines are now available at many convenient locations such as doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, and health departments. To find an immunization provider near you, visit http://vaccine.healthmap.org. Also, many preventive services, including recommended adult vaccines, are or will soon be available at no cost to patients.
For more information or to take an adult vaccine quiz to find out which vaccines you might need, visit www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/index.html.
Join NFID at the 2nd Annual Flu Season Awareness Night on Monday, September 16, 2013 at the Washington Nationals Baseball Game in Washington, DC. Discounted tickets are available at: www.nationals.com/flu.
Learn more about vaccines across the lifespan at the upcoming NFID Clinical Vaccinology Course scheduled for November 15-17, 2013 in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Kenneth Schmader of Duke University Medical Center will be discussing immunizations in older adults and Dr. Wendy Keitel of Baylor College of Medicine will be giving a keynote address on influenza vaccines.