Tuesday, January 17, 2012

No matter how old we are ...

… we still need our shots.

Jodi Helmer wrote in the Costco Connection a few months ago a good article on the need for adult vaccinations. The article said that approximately 50,000 adults die each year in the United States from vaccine-preventable diseases. Deborah Wexler, M.D., executive director of the Immunization Action Coalition, commented, “There is a lack of awareness about the need for adults to be vaccinated and which vaccines are required.

Three kinds of vaccines:

  1. Childhood Vaccines
  2. New Vaccines
  3. Age-appropriate Vaccines

Childhood Vaccines:

Booster shots are often needed for MMR, tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, meningococcal disease and pneumonia mococcal disease. It is also possible that an important childhood immunization, i.e., chicken pox, was missed. The good news is that if you cannot find your childhood medical records (an how many people can), there is no harm in having the vaccination again, says Raymond Strikas, M.D. For example, adults should have a tetanus booster every ten years.

New Vaccines:

The article also commented that there is a good chance that new vaccines have been developed or recommended for adults since your last immunization. It used the example of hepatitis B because it was not part of the last schedule in 1991. The zoster vaccine for protection against shingles has only become available in the last five years.

Age-appropriate Vaccines:

Ms. Helmer emphasized that being up to date on immunizations is especially important as we get older because our immune system weakens. The zoster vaccine is recommended for all adults over 50 as well as the MMR vaccine. Anyone over 65 should have the pneumococcal immunization to protect against bacterial pneumonia. For any of us with Kennedy’s Disease, it is especially important to have the pneumonia and flu shots because of our condition.

Dr. Strikas believes, “There is no reason to risk illness, possible hospitalization and sometimes death when there are effective vaccines available.

And, don’t forget to ask for a sucker afterwards.

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