UK HealthCare

Flu Shot Season is Time to Consider Other Vaccines

This column originally appeared in the Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 edition of the Herald-Leader

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 30, 2014) -- It is that time of year when you should be planning to get your annual flu shot. But many adults believe that after childhood they may not need any other vaccines.  However, immunizations do not end when you reach adulthood. Vaccines for adults are recommended based on your age, prior vaccinations, health, lifestyle, occupation and travel. 

Below are some recommendations that will help you make sure you have the protection you need.

What immunizations do I need?

  • A flu vaccine is recommended yearly.
  • Tdap protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough). The CDC recommends the Tdap for adults 19 and older who have never received the vaccine. A Td booster vaccine (tetanus and diphtheria) should be repeated every 10 years.  
  • Varicella is essential if you never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine.
  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) is important if you never received this vaccine or never had these diseases. Adults born after 1956 may need two doses if they do not have evidence of immunity.
  • Polio - Adults whose travel or job puts them at increased risk for exposure to polio should check with their doctor about a polio vaccine.
  • Hepatitis A -- Anyone who will be in close contact with an adopted child from a country with high rates of hepatitis A and adults who will be traveling to certain foreign countries or have certain risk factors, should be vaccinated for Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B -- Adults 19 to 59 who have diabetes as well as adults whose travel, health condition, or lifestyle increases their risk of exposure should be vaccinated for Hepatitis B.

What vaccinations should I have if I'm an older adult?

  • Pneumococcal vaccine -- this vaccine doesn't prevent pneumonia, but it can prevent some complications.  All adults ages 65 years and older need one dose.
  • Shingles vaccine -- adults ages 60 and older need one dose, whether or not they've had shingles before.

What other vaccines should I consider or check to see if I missed when I was younger?

  • HPV vaccines -- Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines protect against several types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, genital warts, and some less common cancers such as vaginal and anal cancer. Females 13 to 26 years and males 13 to 21 years old need the vaccine if they did not have it previously. Males ages 22 to 26 who have a weak immune system or who have sex with men need the vaccine if they did not get the shot when they were younger. 

Kimberly Blanton is the UK HealthCare Enterprise Director for Infection Prevention & Control/Safety