Kids recently started another School Year. Most parents, I hope, made sure their children’s vaccinations were up to date.
But adults need vaccinations, too. So it’s a great time for all parents—and all adults—to double check that you’ve had the recommended vaccinations for your age group.
Here is a list of 7 vaccinations adults should get, or at least talk to a care provider about.
1. Seasonal flu shot
A new seasonal flu vaccine comes out every fall, so make it an annual event!
We never know from year to year how bad the flu season will be, or if the virus will arrive early in the season or late. I like to get my flu shot in the first part of October, so I know I am fully immunized by November 1 (it takes about 2 weeks).
The flu shot is never perfect, and some years are a worse match than others. But even a small amount of protection is better than none, imo.
Get a tetanus booster every 10 years. It’s usually combined with diptheria (Td) or diptheria and pertussis aka whooping cough (Tdap).
3. Chicken pox
The chicken pox vaccine became available in 1995 and most children now are vaccinated against it. If you’ve never had the vaccine, and never had the chicken pox, talk to your care provider about getting vaccinated. Although chicken pox is a relatively mild childhood disease, it’s much more severe in adults.
There have been a lot of measles outbreaks in the US over the last few years. Typically an outbreak starts when a sick person arrives from overseas. But then the virus spreads rapidly via unvaccinated children and adults.
The MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine became available in the early 1960s. In 1989, experts began recommending two doses of the vaccine.
So you may need a booster if you were born between 1958 and 1989 and don’t remember getting both shots. Your physician can also order a blood test to see if you’re immune or not.
Making sure you’re vaccinated against the measles is a good idea if you travel frequently outside the US.
5. Hepatitis A
Hepatitis A is a liver infection that you can get from tainted food. It’s usually spread when an infected food worker doesn’t wash his or her hands properly. Eww. Outbreaks happen across the country pretty regularly.
The hepatitis A vaccine has been one of the standard childhood vaccinations since 2006. If you haven’t had it, talk to your care provider.
It’s especially recommended for anyone who travels out of the country frequently.
If you had chicken pox as a child, you are at risk of getting shingles as an adult. And as anyone who’s had it can tell you, it’s a painful affliction.
Since 2017 there is a new, very effective vaccine available. It’s recommended for everyone over age 50 who has had chicken pox or who only had the older, less effective vaccine.
While you can’t catch shingles from someone, you can catch chicken pox if you’re not immune to it. That’s another good reason to get the chicken pox vaccine as an adult!
If you’re over 65, or have a chronic health condition that makes you more vulnerable to infections, protect yourself with the pneumonia vaccine.
There are two slightly different vaccines for pneumonia. Each protects against different virus strains, so the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting both.
Which vaccinations do you need? Use the CDC’s vaccine tool to find out!
Don’t trust your memory! Keep a record of your vaccinations and the dates you received them in a health file or wherever you store medical information.