Many adults think that, since they were immunized as children, they don't need to get anything more than a flu shot every year. In reality, you need to be immunized against a variety of diseases as an adult as well, and sometimes on a yearly basis. Here are three important ones you should have done as soon as possible to protect yourself and any vulnerable friends and family members who can't get vaccinated from some reason.
Pneumonia is one of those diseases people think they will never get. However, there are approximately 3 million cases of pneumonia annually, and about 60,000 people die from the condition. A lot of the people who come down with the disease are elderly, but it can affect anyone of any age.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommends that vulnerable adults get two types of pneumonia vaccines: pneumococcal conjugate and pneumococcal polysaccharide. Together, these vaccines protect against multiple types of pneumococcal bacteria that cause the lung inflammation characteristic of pneumonia.
While these vaccines are beneficial to most everyone, it is particularly important for you to get this immunization shot if you're over 65, if you smoke, or if you are at an increased risk of acquiring the disease because of certain medical conditions such as emphysema or diabetes. Since you can be a carrier of the disease, it's also a good idea to get vaccinated if you'll be around people who can't be immunized because they're too young or because of other health problems.
Pertussis is the official name for whooping cough, which is a disease characterized by severe cough. It can be fatal in children, which is why the vaccines for it (DTaP and Tdap) are some of the first ones given when kids become eligible for immunizations.
As noted previously, though, some vaccines become less effective over time, and this is one of them. Thus, people who were immunized against the disease as children—and those who never received the vaccine—need to get a booster during their adult years.
Being vaccinated against this disease is particularly important if you expect to be around children who cannot be immunized against it, such as infants. You can be a carrier for the disease without exhibiting any of the signs of illness and pass the virus onto vulnerable kids. Babies are the largest group affected by the disease and have the highest rate of death from it. So take care to reduce your risk of transmitting the disease to an infant as much as possible.
If you're one of the over 30 million people diagnosed with diabetes, then you need to get the Hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B is an incurable disease that can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer, both of which can lead to death. The disease is highly infectious, and people with diabetes are at a higher risk of getting it because they use a variety of needles to test blood and take medication. The issue is that sometimes diabetics share their testing kits and needles for injecting insulin with others, which is how Hepatitis B is most often transmitted between diabetics. However, you can also be infected via sex or any other activity involving the sharing of bodily fluids.
It's recommended that you get vaccinations for Hepatitis A along with those for Hepatitis B. But, if you can only afford one, it's best to get immunized against Hepatitis B.
There are a few more vaccines you should get as an adult. For more information about them or to schedule immunizations for yourself or a loved one, contact a family doctor at a medical facility like Rural Health Services Consortium Inc.