Published February 10, 2012
Vaccines can be an essential way to protect yourself against all manner of serious and potentially fatal diseases. Keeping up to date with your immunizations can be a little confusing because your health needs change as you grow older. But getting properly vaccinated for each stage of your life is an important part of staying healthy. Here is a list of the five most important vaccines for adults.
The flu vaccine is one of the most popular immunization shots available. It’s recommended that adults renew their flu vaccine every year to help safeguard against contracting the virus. This is especially true for the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Doses can be administered with an injection or nasal spray, preferably at the beginning of flu season in October or November. The flu vaccine is not recommended if you are currently ill or have had allergic reactions to eggs or previous vaccines.
Pneumonia is an extremely serious and potentially fatal condition, particularly for older people or those with weaker immune systems. That’s why it’s so important to receive the pneumonia vaccination if you’re over the age of 65 or suffer from a chronic illness. The shot is also recommended for cigarette smokers and residents of long-term care facilities like nursing homes. The initial immunization lasts five years, after which a one-time boosters is required.
While chickenpox is relatively harmless to most children it can be extremely serious for adults. It’s so serious, in fact, that since it can only be contracted once, parents sometimes encourage their children to catch it while they’re still young. Even if you’ve never built up a natural immunity to the disease, you can still protect yourself during adulthood with a chickenpox vaccine. The inoculation is not recommended if you are pregnant, allergic to gelatin, or have a weak immune system.
Shingles (herpes zoster)
If you’ve contracted chickenpox before, then the virus is still lying dormant inside certain cells in your body. If this virus becomes active once again, it will cause a painful skin rash, known as shingles. It’s not yet clear why shingles occurs, so the only way to effectively protect yourself from it is by getting immunized. Though it may not be necessary for all adults, the shingles vaccine is strongly recommended for individuals over the age of 50.
The Tdap is an important vaccination designed to protect adults against tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis. The vaccine is recommended for all adults – particularly if you’ve received a wound that’s likely to become infected, or you regularly come in contact with infants. To remain effective, a booster is required every ten years. Pregnant women who have not received the vaccine in over ten years should receive this booster in their second of third trimester.