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HEALTHY LIVING — I’m an adult. Do I still need vaccinations?

Vaccinations and the need for them are in the news daily.

The short answer is, yes indeed. Oh, I know, as a child you couldn’t wait till you got old enough not to need doctor visits for vaccinations. No lollipop ever made up for those shots.

Well, I have some news for you. To protect your health and the health of those around you, you are going to need to get some vaccinations till the end of your life. Actually, more than you may think.

All adults need:

  • Flu shot: Yearly. Best time to get it is end of September/first of October. It takes two weeks to become effective and within that two weeks, you can still contract the flu. We usually get ours the middle of September.

Flu season is still active into the spring. No, the shot WILL NOT give you the flu.

  • Td or Tdap vaccine: Every adult should get the Tdap vaccine once if they did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), 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. Really good to get a booster if you have new babies on the way in your close family.

As we get older, our immune systems tend to weaken over time, putting us at higher risk for certain diseases. This is why you should also get:

Pneumococcal vaccines, which protect against pneumococcal disease, including infections in the lungs and bloodstream (recommended for all adults over 65 years old, and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions)

Zoster vaccine, which protects against shingles (recommended for adults 60 years or older or if you have had shingles)

Health care workers:

  • Hepatitis B: If you don’t have documented evidence of a complete HepB vaccine series, or if you don’t have an up-to-date blood test that shows you are immune to hepatitis B (i.e., no serologic evidence of immunity or prior vaccination) then you should get the three-dose series (dose No. 1 now, No. 2 in 1 month, No. 3 approximately 5 months after No. 2). Get anti-HBs serologic tested 1–2 months after dose No. 3.
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella): If you were born in 1957 or later and have not had the MMR vaccine, or if you don’t have an up-to-date blood test that shows you are immune to measles, mumps, and rubella (i.e., no serologic evidence of immunity or prior vaccination), get two doses of MMR, four weeks apart.
  • Varicella (Chickenpox): If you have not had chickenpox (varicella), if you haven’t had varicella vaccine, or if you don’t have an up-to-date blood test that shows you are immune to varicella (i.e., no serologic evidence of immunity or prior vaccination) get two doses of varicella vaccine, four weeks apart.
  • Meningococcal: Those who are routinely exposed to isolates of N. meningitidis should get one dose.

Wait! Who should NOT be vaccinated?

Some adults with specific health conditions should not get certain vaccines or should wait to get them. As always, the very best advice is to talk with your doctor to make sure you get the vaccines that are right for you.

Medicare Part B pays for flu and pneumonia vaccinations. Take the necessary precautions, stay up to date on your vaccines (if you are able to take them), and live healthy, my friends.

Jody Holton writes about health for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at jholton3@gt.rr.com.