Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

6 vaccinations you should get as an adult

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That’s right, grown-ups. Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you don’t need to be inoculated.

Thousands of adults become ill from diseases that a vaccine could have prevented, according to the CDC . Many are hospitalized, and some die. Even if you were vaccinated as a child, the CDC warns, the protection of that shot can wear off, requiring a booster.

“What makes vaccines unique is that they protect the person who is vaccinated as well as the community in which they live,” Bruce Gellin told the Huffington Post. Gellin is president of global immunization at Sabin Vaccine Institute, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that promotes vaccine development.

The six vaccines for adults below are ones that are suggested by medical experts:

HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9)

In October 2018, the Food and Drug Administration expanded use of the HPV vaccine to include people ages 27 to 45.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is sexually transmitted and is named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause, according to the CDC.

The CDC says about 14 million people — male and female — are infected with HPV each year, and most never know it. About 12,000 women are diagnosed with and about 4,000 women die from cervical cancer caused by certain HPV viruses. HPV viruses are also associated with several other forms of cancer affecting men and women.

According to cancer.gov, Gardasil 9 is the only HPV vaccine available for use in the United States.

>> Related: HPV vaccine: What to know about human papillomavirus

Tdap vaccine

You’re in the emergency room after stepping on a nail. What’s the first thing the doctor asks you? “When was your last tetanus shot?” If you can’t remember, then it’s time for a booster.

Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough). 

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in August, whooping cough has been making a comeback. The potentially life-threatening childhood illness all but disappeared in the 1940s after a vaccine was developed. Changes in the vaccine and waning immunity are likely contributing to the resurgence of the illness, according to experts.

>> Related: Why whooping cough is making a comeback

Shingles vaccine (Shingrix)

Almost one out of every three people in the United States will develop shingles in their lifetime, the CDC says. Your risk grows as you age. Additionally, over 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations occur in people 65 years and older. Shingles is a painful rash that usually clears up in two to four weeks. Some people, however, have suffered for months or even years, the CDC reports.

The vaccine Shingrix was approved by the FDA in 2017, and the CDC recommends it over Zostavax, which has been used since 2006. Healthy adults 50 and older should get two doses of Shingrix two to six months apart, the CDC recommends.

>> Related: How effective is the Shingrix shingles vaccine?

>> Related: Shingles remain a lifelong threat

Pneumococcal vaccine

Pneumococcal disease is an infection. If it gets in the lungs, it can cause pneumonia. If it gets in the bloodstream or tissues around the brain or spinal cord, it can cause meningitis.

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, pneumococcal disease kills thousands in the U.S. each year, most of them age 65 years or older. The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for all adults over 65 and for adults younger than 65 years who have certain chronic health conditions.

Flu vaccine

According to a Jan. 7 influenza report from the Atlanta-based CDC, flu activity continues to increase. 

Twenty-four states, including Georgia, have reported widespread geographic flu activity this season, the AJC reported

According to the CDC, “millions of people get the flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year.” Because the flu virus can change, it’s important to be vaccinated each year.

>> Related: Is it the flu or a cold? How to tell the difference

>> Related: Do you have the flu? 17 things to know about flu symptoms, flu shot side effects and more

Travel vaccines

“Adults traveling may benefit from typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, cholera and yellow fever vaccinations depending on the location of their travel,” Amesh Adalja, a physician and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the Huffington Post.

For those wondering if they need to update their shots, the CDC has a checklist to help. Select where you’re going and what kind of traveler you are, and you’ll get a list of recommendations to help keep you healthy while traveling.

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