This month we will discuss adult vaccinations, and when and what you need. This is a question I hear from my patients daily. There are four routine vaccines given to adults. These include the seasonal Influenza (Flu) vaccine, Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine, Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccine and a booster diphtheria/tetanus (Td) vaccine (adding pertussis (Tdap) once).
The seasonal flu vaccine is now recommended for just about every adult. This year’s vaccine will have the H1N1 vaccine in it. It is ok to do it again if you had it last year. It will just build up your immunity. Of course, it will also have all the other strains that are circulating currently around the world at this time. The flu shot changes every year due to change in these strains. Remember to get it before the flu season starts so you can start building up your defenses. Do not get it if you are allergic to eggs, currently sick, experienced a reaction in the past or had Guillain-Barré syndrome. Discuss it with your doctor.
The pneumonia vaccination is recommended for people age 65 and over, and those younger adults with chronic illnesses, smokers, or asthmatics. People over the age of 65 need to receive a one-time second dose if they were vaccinated more than 5 years ago or before the age of 65, have immune suppression, or if they are unsure of vaccination.
A diphtheria/tetanus booster shot is recommended every 10 years. A single dose of Tdap (with pertussis) should replace the next booster shot given (once only).
The Herpes zoster (shingles) vaccination is recommended for people age 60 years and older. It is a one time dose if unvaccinated, regardless of previous history of shingles or chicken pox.
Other vaccines that are out there include the Hepatitis A and B vaccines, regular Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, HPV, MMR vaccine catch-up, Polio booster, and the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccine.
As always, please discuss any problems with your personal doctor. Stay healthy.
James Chanez, M.D.
Presbyterian Hospitals of Dallas