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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Vaccines for Adults

When you hit adulthood you probably figured that you were pretty much done with vaccines, except for the occasional flu shot. But experts say the right vaccines can prevent pain, misery, and could even save your life.
They say don't be hesitant or worried about the side effects. Here's the shots they say you need, and why you want them.

Tdap booster: Prevents whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus
Experts now realize that neither immunization nor infection provides lifelong protection. In fact, immunity wanes within 10 years, says the director of the CDC's National Immunization Program and that's why there's been a massive resurgence of pertussis over the past 20 years.
The next time you're due for your 10-year tetanus-diphtheria shot (Td) — which you should be getting a tetanus booster every decade — ask for the Tdap booster, which includes protection against pertussis. Get the shot now if you're in close contact with a baby or someone whose immune system has been weakened by age, chemotherapy, or HIV infection — they might not survive if you pass pertussis to them. (You can get a Tdap booster as soon as 2 years after a previous Td vaccine.)

MMR: Prevents mumps, measles, and rubella
This viral infection is making a comeback. "In adults, mumps can be serious: 1 in 20 women develops swelling of the ovaries; 1 in 5 men, inflammation of the testes. Rarely, adult mumps can cause potentially deadly encephalitis (an infection of the brain). If you were born between 1957 and 1967, you're particularly susceptible to catching mumps, because the version of the vaccine your pediatrician gave you wasn't effective enough to provide reliable lifelong protection.Protect yourself: If you're not sure you had mumps or received two MMR doses after 1967, get this vaccine ASAP. (Kids need two shots 28 days apart; as an adult, you'll get only one.)"

Flu vaccine: Prevents flu — and potentially deadly pneumonia
"The bug behind those drug-resistant pneumonias is a new and nasty strain of Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA — and researchers say flu raises the risk of catching it. There are plenty of other reasons to avoid the flu: 36,000 people die each year from flu-related complications. That's why the CDC now says that all adults should get an annual flu shot."
"Protect yourself by getting get a flu shot or a spritz of the new nasal vaccine, FluMist (approved for adults up to age 50). It's best to get immunized in October or November, but immunization as late as January is still worthwhile — the flu often peaks as late as March."

Zostavax: Prevents shingles and postherpetic neuralgia
When you turn 60, get a dose of Zostavax, which was approved by the FDA last year. "One in four people who have had chicken­pox eventually develops the blistering rash of shingles — caused when the chickenpox virus, Varicella zoster, is reactivated. Around 40% will go on to suffer what's been described as the worst kind of pain imaginable. Called postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), it is so agonizing that it's been known to lead some people to suicide." If you never had chickenpox then you should also get the chickenpox vaccine, Varivax. Adult chickenpox has a higher risk of complications, such as pneumonia and potentially deadly encephalitis.

HPV vaccine (Gardasil) for women: Prevents cervical cancer
Consider getting the three-shot HPV series if you've been mutually monogamous — or abstinent — but are now dating again you should also think about getting a hepatitis B vaccine
as that sexually transmitted virus sometimes causes liver cancer. If you're over age 26, your insurance may not cover the $350 cost of the series, at least until Gardasil is approved for older women or a similar shot, called Cervarix, gets okayed, one or both approvals may happen soon.

To read more about this and put vaccine fears to rest, go to:


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