Parents are aware of the importance of keeping up with their infant or toddler's vaccination schedule to ensure their child's good health. But what many adults aren't aware of is that they also need to keep up with their own vaccinations by receiving boosters of some of the same shots.
Getting childhood vaccines prevents numerous diseases, but booster shots are sometimes required. Years after getting a vaccine, a body may lose its protection from the disease. Because of this, booster shots are given to increase the number of protective antibodies in the blood.
Some shots were not yet available when an adult was a child. For example, people born before 1957 did not receive the MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccines.
Walgreens pharmacist and pharmacy manager Dawn Marie Dragos gives a Tdap booster shot to Chris McCallum, store manager.
Dawn Marie Dragos, pharmacist and pharmacy manager of Walgreens immunization services at U.S. Route 422 and Tibbetts Wick Road, Niles, emphasized the importance of adults getting booster shots.
"Every adult needs Tdap once in a lifetime because we're getting all these outbreaks," she said. "A lot of people don't think it's important because they haven't seen it. Well, now it's starting to come back. It not only protects the elderly, it protects the children, too.''
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Disease Control and Prevention agrees that people should get a once in a lifetime Tdap vaccine, and advises a booster shot every 10 years.
What shots do adults need?
Adults should get yearly influenza vaccines and a one-time Tdap (tetanus, diptheria, pertussis) vaccine, with tetanus boosters every 10 years. Adults should talk to their doctor to see if they need vaccines for hepatitis A; hepatitis B; human papilloma virus (HPV); measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); meningitis; pneumonia; chicken pox and / or shingles.
Are you up-to-date?
The CDC offers a quiz to help adults determine which vaccines they need so they can discuss the findings with their physician. Click on this story at tribtoday.com to get the link to the quiz.
The CDC also encourages adults age 19 and older to get a yearly influenza or flu shot. Tetanus booster shots are encouraged for adults every 10 years to prevent lock jaw, especially if they have had a recent cut. It also recommends that adults 65 and older get a pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot.
Connie Deramo of Girard said that she gets a flu shot, but as far as booster shots are concerned, she leaves that to the experts.
"My doctor has my records," she said. "If he says I need to update my shots, then I will."
"I get the flu shot," said Marie Accordino of Niles. "I don't know of other booster shots that I need, really."
College-aged adults, particularly freshman, are urged to get the meningococcal vaccine. This immunization prevents the life-threatening bacterial infection meningitis. It is easily spread throughout the close contact of college dormitory living.
Some vaccines are required for adults with certain health-risk factors such as working in the health care professions. Hepatitis A and B immunizations are given to prevent life-threatening liver disease.
"Every state Board of Pharmacy has their own regulations on what vaccines a pharmacy can give," Drago said. "In the state of Ohio, we offer the Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, the meningococcal one for meningitis, flu and pneumonia, and a tetanus booster. None of these require prescription.
''The one that does require a prescription is the shingles vaccine. The shingles vaccine is for ages 50 and older. It is recommended even if you had shingles because it can minimize the breakout if you do get it again,'' she said.
Deramo said she knows someone who had shingles, so she is contemplating the shingles vaccine to avoid getting it.
Determining if an adult needs to update their childhood immunizations may not be an easy task. There isn't a central database for immunization records. Schools keep vaccination histories of their students, but only for a limited number of years. Once in storage, this information may be difficult to access.
Pediatricians, some state medical boards or university medical offices may have the information since immunization records are often a requirement for college enrollment.
If shot records are not located, an adult may have to repeat immunization for such childhood illnesses as mumps, measles and rubella (MMR vaccine) or chicken pox (varicella shot) or receive a tetanus shot, which requires a booster dose every 10 years.
It is suggested that each adult discuss their vaccination requirements with their family physician who will consider each patient's, age, medical history and risk factors to decide which booster shots they will need.
The Affordable Care Act may allow people to get shots for no cost depending on their insurance plan. Those without health insurance can contact the state board of health to find free or low-cost shots.