You may not have all the vaccinations you need! Grandparents please note!
Immunizations are important to individuals, as well as to the public health. Immunizations decrease the severity and death from infectious diseases, but many adults are under-vaccinated. There are many reasons for this, including lack of knowledge by doctors and their patients regarding the recommendations, multiple caregivers for an individual (who is in charge of the big picture), and concerns regarding insurance coverage, reimbursement, co-pays, etc. It all leads to the fact that many adults do not have the vaccines that they should.
Here are the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States. (ACIP)
Hepatitis A and B:
Hepatitis A and B can cause acute and chronic infections that can lead to death and serious illness. Children are now vaccinated for hepatitis A, but unvaccinated adults who have risk factors should be vaccinated. Risk factors include men who have sex with men, drug users, people with chronic liver disease, and travelers to countries that are high risk.
Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for adults with more than one sexual partner in six months, healthcare personal, people with end-stage renal disease, and those who are seen in STD and HIV testing centers. Children are routinely vaccinated.
Human papilloma virus:
The human papilloma virus is associated with cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancer in women, anal and oral/ pharyngeal cancers in men and women, and cancer of the penis in men. In the US, the vaccine is approved for women up to the age of 26. Three doses of the vaccine are given over a six month period of time. In Canada, the vaccine can be given to women who are at risk up to the age of 45. A physician my consider prescribing the vaccine to women older than age 26 if she is deemed to have missed the window of opportunity and is at high risk. Because the vaccine is not FDA approved for this age group, the cost is usually not covered by insurance
A flu vaccine is recommended yearly for everyone older than 6 months of age. Those who are healthcare workers, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are especially at risk. The vaccine changes yearly in accordance with which strains of the virus are considered to be the most likely
contagions for the coming season. The vaccine should be given by October, but those who remain unvaccinated may obtain the vaccine through the winter flu season.
Pneumonia vaccine: pneumococcal vaccine
Strep pneumonia causes about 500,000 cases of pneumonia in the US yearly. All adults greater than the age of 65, and those younger than 65 who are immunocompromised or at risk, should be vaccinated. Two vaccines are available, the timing and sequence should be determined by your physician.
Tetanus and Tdap:
Trap is a vaccine that includes tetanus toxoid, diphtheria toxoid, and acellular pertussis.
This vaccine is recommended once in an adult’s lifetime, versus previously getting tetanus and diphtheria every ten years. This Tdap vaccine is recommended for adults greater than the age of 65, and all healthcare workers. Also, and this is important to GRANDPARENTS, if you anticipate close contact with an infant, you should have the vaccine to prevent the transmission of pertussis. This vaccine can be given even if you have had a tetanus shot recently.
Shingles vaccine: herpes zoster
The shingles vaccine is important to obtain over the age of 50 (FDA recommendation) or 60 (ACIP recommendation). Shingles causes a rash and can cause severe pain in older adults, leading to marked disability and hospitalizations. Contraindications to the virus are pregnancy, immunodeficiency, and chronic steroid use. This vaccine is very effective in reducing the morbidity from the shingles virus.
As with all medical advice, your individual needs for a particular vaccine should be determined by your physician after assessing your medical history.
NAMS PRACTICE PEARL: Immunizations for Adult Women, August 1, 2016
by Stephanie S. Faubion, MD, and Lisa C. Larkin, MD