While getting a flu shot is a pre-school right of passage for many students, it's important for parents to also make sure their vaccinations are up to date before heading back to their normal fall schedules as well.
“It’s well known that children have a vaccination schedule, but many adults aren’t aware there are a number of vaccines they should have to protect them from diseases such as pneumonia, shingles, whooping cough and tetanus,” said Dr. Charles O’Dowd, an internist at Highland Medical, P.C., Clarkstown Medical Associates in New City, N.Y.
This past flu season had record-breaking levels of influenza illness and hospitalization rates, and the best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year. “We’re getting ready to give thousands of flu shots in our office alone,” said O’Dowd. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community. The CDC recommends to get a flu shot as soon as it’s available—usually in late September.
Every adult should also get the Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine if they did not receive it as an adolescent, and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years. In addition, women should get the Tdap vaccine each time they are pregnant, preferably at 27 through 36 weeks.
“There’s been an uptick in whooping cough activity, so if you’re around kids, such as a grandparent taking care of their grandchildren, you should get the shot to protect them,” said O’Dowd.
Those over 65 should also receive the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine, which protects against pneumonia and meningitis. A person 65 or older should have a series of two pneumococcal vaccines a year apart. No further pneumococcal vaccines are needed after that.
A new shingles vaccine, called Shingrix, is recommended for those age 50 and older. The new vaccine, which requires two doses, protects people better and more safely than the older shingles vaccine, the CDC said. Shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, forming blisters that scab over in a week to 10 days. Shingles usually clears up within two to four weeks, but the pain can last for months or even years after the rash clears.
It’s easy to forget when you last had certain vaccinations, which is why it’s so important to tell your primary care doctor if you get a vaccine from another provider. “That way, your doctor can keep track of all of your immunizations and let you know when you’re due for another one,” said O’Dowd.
For more information on vaccinations or to learn more about your health, visit Highland Medical's website.