Immunizations Aren’t Just for Kids

Some adults assume they don’t need to worry about vaccinations because they got their shots when they were children. However, some adults were never vaccinated as children, or vaccines that are available today weren’t around when they were growing up. Even if you were fully vaccinated as a child, immunity can begin to fade over time leaving you vulnerable to infection. Depending on your job, lifestyle, travel, health condition, or age you could be at greater risk.

Getting your recommended vaccines can give you the peace of mind that you have the best possible protection available against a number of serious diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all adults receive a yearly seasonal flu (influenza) vaccine. On average more than 200,000 people are hospitalized due to influenza and between 3,000 and 49,000 people die from flu and its complications every year. The majority of infections and deaths are among adults. In fact, over 60% of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older.

All adults should also get the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) vaccine if they did not receive one as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough) and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every ten years. It is also recommended that pregnant women get the Tdap vaccine with each pregnancy, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.

Because the immune system tends to weaken over time, older adults have a higher risk of certain diseases. This is why, in addition to seasonal flu and Td or Tdap vaccines, seniors should also get pneumococcal and zoster vaccines.

Pneumococcal vaccines which protect against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream, are recommended for all adults 65 and older as well as those younger than 65 who have certain health conditions. About 900,000 people get pneumococcal pneumonia every year leading to as many as 400,000 hospitalizations and 19,000 deaths.

Zoster vaccine, which protects against shingles, is also recommended for all adults age 60 and older. An estimated one million Americans get shingles every year, and about half are 60 years old or older. Some will have severe pain that can continue even long after their rash clears up, or they may suffer from other painful complications that could persist for years.

If you have certain health conditions you may need additional vaccines. Talk with your doctor to find out which vaccines are recommended for you based on your specific health status.

You have a busy life and too much responsibility to risk getting sick. Vaccines can help you stay healthy so you don’t miss work and you have time for family, friends, and hobbies. And when you get a vaccine you not only protect yourself, you protect everyone around you as well. Some people in your family or community may not be able to get certain vaccines due to their age or health condition so they rely on you to help prevent the spread of disease.

Make it a point to talk with your doctor to make sure that everyone in your family gets the shots they need.

In addition to your doctor’s office, vaccines may be available at pharmacies, workplaces, community health clinics, health departments, or other community locations such as schools and religious centers. To find an adult vaccine provider in your area visit HealthMap Vaccine Finder.

SSM Health at Home is a nonprofit organization providing a variety of comprehensive home care services, including home health, hospice, medical equipment, infusion pharmacy and community health. We offer Informational Visits to anyone interested in learning more about how we can help. Request a visit online or call 1-800-924-2273.