As a kid, childhood immunizations were aregular part of seeing the doctor. As an adult, immunizations are far less frequent — but that doesn’t mean you don’t need them.
Vaccines supplement our immune system’s germ-fighting abilities, essentially teaching our bodies how to recognize specific germs so it can produce antibodies to fight them off. While some vaccines you get as a kid may provide lifetime protection, other vaccines need “boosters” during the adult years to help them remain effective. Other vaccines — like the shingles vaccine — are developed specifically for adults.
With clinicsin San Pedro, California, Harbor Community Health Centers is a leading provider of vaccines for adults and children. August is National Immunization Awareness Month and we’re here to provide you with a quick review of adult vaccinations to help you understand which vaccines you need to help you stay healthy and ward off potentially dangerous diseases.
Vaccination recommendations for adults
There are literally dozens of vaccines available, some intended for kids, some for adults, and some for special circumstances, such as travel to destinations with specific endemic diseases. Fortunately, several expert agencies, such as the CDC, keep track of vaccine recommendations to make it easier to ensure you remain up to date. Your HarborCHC medical provider will keep your immunization record up-to-date and will review it with you at your annual physical to make sure you’re protected.
The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age or older receive a complete vaccine series for COVID-19. The number of vaccines depends on whether or not you’re immunocompromised. You can find updated information on the CDC website.
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox — the varicella-zoster virus. If you’ve had chickenpox, the virus can lay dormant in your body and become active later, causing significant — sometimes debilitating — nerve pain. We strongly recommend that adults over the age of 50 receive the shingles vaccine
If you didn’t have the chickenpox virus as a kid, or if you weren’t vaccinated during childhood, the CDC advises getting the varicella vaccine as an adult. While chickenpox may be mild during the childhood years, it can cause serious complications if you contract it as an adult.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is typically provided to teens and preteens, but if you didn’t have the vaccine then, the CDC recommends getting immunized up through age 26. After that, you can still benefit from the vaccine, but you should discuss it with your doctor to determine if it’s right for you.
This vaccine gets its name from the diseases it fights off: tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (or whooping cough). Kids get a similar vaccine called Dtap. The CDC recommends regular boosters for adults. The Td vaccine is another option, without the protection against pertussis.
Flu (influenza) vaccine
Flu vaccines are recommended every year for adults (and kids, too). That’s because every year, a different type of flu becomes more active, and that means your immunization needs to be updated annually.
Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine
Also called the MMR vaccine, this is a common childhood immunization. Ask your medical provider to confirm that you received it as a child. If you were born during certain years or you reside, work, or travel in high-exposure environments, you might need a booster to make sure you remain protected.
Hepatitis A and B vaccines
Hepatitis is a serious disease that affects your liver. While there are several types of hepatitis, hepatitis A and hepatitis B are the most common in the United States. Most people receive these as children but check with your provider to be sure. Hepatitis C is another common type of viral hepatitis, but to date, there is no vaccine to protect against it.
The CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine to protect against pneumonia for anyone 65 or older, as well as people with specific health risks.
Meningococcal ACWY and Meningococcal B (MenB) vaccines
Meningococcal vaccines are often administered during the teen or preteen years, but they may also be recommended during the adult years for specific groups of people, including people living in close quarters and those with certain diseases.
While these general guidelines are suitable for most people, there are exceptions where vaccine recommendations can vary. Speak to your doctor if you have a chronic medical condition or diseaseor if you plan to travel to areas with a high risk of specific diseases.
Providers at HarborCHC can help make sure you get the right immunizations based on your specific health needs and risk factors. To learn more about vaccines or to schedule a vaccination appointment, call Harbor Community Health Centers at 310-547-0202 today.