Over time, our immune systems tend to weaken, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. About 45,000 adults die each year from illnesses that could have been prevented by a vaccination (immunization). The best way to prevent certain complications is to get the appropriate vaccines. A physician can decide which vaccines are right for you based on your age, prior vaccinations, health, lifestyle, occupation, and travel destinations. If you have an ongoing health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, getting immunized is especially important. The guidelines below are identified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as the best way to prevent serious illness.
All adults should receive:
• Tetanus-diphtheria (Td) or tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) vaccines: If you didn’t receive a tetanus shot as an adolescent, it is important to get one right away. Td booster shots are recommended every 10 years. Adults aged 65 years or older who are healthcare workers or who have close contact with infants less than one year old (e.g., grandparents, childcare providers) should get a single dose of Tdap as soon as possible, regardless of how long ago they had a tetanus booster.
• Seasonal flu vaccine: Also known as a flu shot, this vaccine changes from year to year to protect you against changes in the flu virus. Experts recommend you receive a flu shot every year before the holiday season, to protect you from serious complications that can develop in people with influenza including bacteria pneumonia.
Adults age 50 and older should also receive:
• Zoster vaccine: If you had chickenpox as a child, you face a higher risk of getting shingles, a painful skin rash that affects older adults. After a bout of chicken pox, the virus can live in nerve endings and be reactivated as shingles later in life. The zoster vaccine fights the virus that causes shingles. The CDC recommends that adults over age 50 get a two-dose version of the vaccine.
Adults age 65 and older should also receive:
• Pneumococcal vaccine: Pneumococcal disease causes severe infections throughout the bloodstream and/or key organs. Conditions that result from this disease include pneumonia, meningitis, and bacteremia. This vaccine protects you against ear, brain, and lung infections (pneumonia).
• Hepatitis A and B vaccine: Some doctors also recommend that seniors with certain health problems get the hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine, two infections that cause liver inflammation.
• Measles Vaccine: Given the recent Measles outbreak, any adult who has not received their first Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) vaccine yet should get their first MMR vaccine now.