The United States observes a rigorous vaccination schedule designed to keep infants and children protected against preventable diseases. As an adult, you may not realize that there are vaccinations that may be beneficial for keeping you and your loved ones safe from illness and disease as well. The CDC publishes Immunization Schedules for adults as well as for children. The vaccinations recommended on these schedules vary according to an individual’s age, health, previous vaccinations, and risk factors. Here are nine vaccines that the CDC suggests may be beneficial for adults.
The CDC recommends a yearly influenza vaccine for anyone over six months old. The flu vaccine is critical in preventing the misery, lost work time, and risk of serious illness from flu. The CDC reports that the 2017-2018 flu season caused illness in 48.8 million Americans. Furthermore, around 79,000 people died from the flu. Each year, scientists design a flu vaccination that targets the most prevalent, active viruses of the year. For the 2019-2020 flu season, the World Health Organization recommends an egg-based quadrivalent vaccine that targets an H1N1-like virus, an H3N2-like virus, a B/Colorado/06/2017-like virus, and a B/Phuket/3073/2013-like virus.
For adults, the CDC recommends a tetanus vaccine every 10 years. The original vaccine is given once as a Tdap vaccination that offers protection against tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis. After the initial dose, a tetanus and diphtheria booster, Td, can be given every ten years. Failure to keep up with tetanus vaccinations can result in a painful condition called lockjaw. Lockjaw occurs when a bacterium, Clostridium tetani, infects the body and releases toxins that cause muscles to painfully contract. The term lockjaw comes from an affected person’s difficulty in opening the mouth.
7. Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
The CDC recommends the shingles vaccine for adults age 50 and older. This vaccine prevents the painful condition known as shingles or herpes zoster. Shingles is a viral infection that may cause a rash and nerve pain. It often occurs on one side of the affected person’s torso. The Mayo Clinic lists pain, burning, numbness, pus-filled blisters, and itching as signs of shingles. Risk factors for shingles include a prior chickenpox infection, age over 50, a weakened immune system, and radiation or chemotherapy. The CDC recommends adults over the age of 50 obtain two doses of the Shingrix vaccine.
6. Varicella (Chickenpox)
The CDC recommends two doses of varicella vaccine for adults born after 1980 who have not had either chickenpox infection or the varicella vaccine. The CDC lists several serious side effects or complications of chickenpox infection. These include Group A strep skin infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, bleeding disorders, sepsis, dehydration, and death. You may have heard that some patients get chickenpox despite vaccination. However, if a person contracts chickenpox despite vaccination, the uncomfortable symptoms of itching, blistering, and fever are usually less severe. Furthermore, vaccinated patients usually experience a faster recovery.
5. Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
The CDC recommends two doses of HPV vaccinations for females age 19 to 26 and males age 19 to 21. The number of doses depends on the age of the first vaccination. Men between the ages of 22 and 26 may benefit from the HPV vaccine if they have certain risk factors. The CDC recommends obtaining the first dose of HPV vaccine at around age 11. According to Medline Plus, HPV refers to a group of viruses that people contract through sexual contact. These viruses can cause genital warts. Additionally, HPV can lead to various types of cancer, including cervical, anal, vaginal, penile, and throat cancer.
4. Measles, Mumps, Rubella
Adults born after 1957 who have not been vaccinated or do not show signs of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella should receive one dose of MMR vaccine. According to the CDC, healthcare providers reported over 1,200 cases of measles between January 1 and August 15, 2019. This is the highest number of reported cases since 1992. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a bout of measles may present as fever, coughing, runny nose, muscle pain, sensitivity to light, and a rash that spreads downward from the head. Those at risk for measles include unvaccinated persons traveling to areas with measles outbreaks and those living in close quarters with others who may have measles.
3. Hepatitis B
While vaccination against hepatitis B is not necessary for every adult individual, certain populations may benefit from this vaccine. The CDC recommends that healthcare workers who come into contact with blood or blood products be vaccinated. Furthermore, the Hepatitis B Foundation lists other individuals who may require the protection of hepatitis B vaccines. These include diabetic patients, those with liver or kidney disease, persons who engage in sex with more than one sex partner, and individuals with sexually transmitted diseases. Furthermore, when traveling to countries where hepatitis is prevalent, vaccination against hepatitis B may be advisable.
The CDC recommends meningococcal vaccines in certain situations for individuals over the age of 19. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines. MenACWY or MenB may be beneficial for persons with conditions such as sickle cell disease, HIV, or persistent complement component deficiency. This vaccine may also be beneficial to those traveling to countries in which there is rampant meningococcal disease. Additionally, the CDC recommends MenACWY for certain first-year college students and military recruits. Some healthcare workers may also require the protection provided by meningococcal vaccination.
The CDC recommends that adults over the age of 65 receive one dose of a pneumococcal vaccine. This vaccine can prevent infections by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae. This bacterium can cause diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, blood infections, sinus infections, and ear infections. Additionally, persons age 19 to 64 who suffer from a weakened immune system or chronic lung, liver, or heart disease may benefit from this vaccine. Other conditions that may warrant pneumococcal vaccination include alcoholism, smoking, diabetes, and leukemia. Furthermore, persons with cochlear implants are also at risk for pneumococcal infections and may benefit from vaccination.