Like Kids, Adults Need Immunizations

Many Missing Out On Front Line Of Defense Against Infectious Diseases

WESTON, Fla. - According to a recent government report, almost 98 percent of American adults are not up to date on vital vaccines and booster shots.

"The vaccine-preventable diseases we have now are showing up in adults. That's because we take care of our children, but as adults, we don't take care of ourselves," said Dr. Lyssette Cardona, an infectious disease specialist with the Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Cardona said every 10 years starting at age 19, adults should get a tetanus shot.

"This comes in combination with vaccines for diphtheria and pertussis, also known as whooping cough. Whooping cough is a problem among kids, so being vaccinated as an adult is important," said Cardona.

One time in adulthood, Cardona said, people also need a booster for polio and the combination booster for measles, mumps and rubella.

"Usually, these infections in adults are worse and have more complications than in children, especially if you're pregnant," said Cardona. "You could get severe complications and die."

Health officials also recommend the meningococcal vaccine for young adults in college, especially those living in dorms.

"The meningococcal vaccine is also recommended for those going into the military, people traveling to Africa and anyone at risk for bacterial infections," said Cardona.

People with certain underlying health conditions and lifestyle habits should also get the pneumococcal vaccine.

"This is indicated for people with diabetes, heart problems, kidney disease, as well as alcoholics and people who smoke," said Cardona. "We also suggest it for anyone over age 65."

Cardona said people over the age of 50 should get the Zoster vaccine to protect against shingles, a painful skin rash associated with chicken pox.

"It may not prevent it entirely, but it can definitely reduce the severity of shingles," she said.

A vaccine for hepatitis A and B is recommended for some adults depending on sexual history and underlying health conditions.

"It's really important to see you doctor for an annual physical and to be honest about your personal history so that you can be protected with the proper vaccines," Cardona said.

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