(BlackDoctor.org) — While more African American adults are taking a role in their health these days — eating better and exercising — many forego one of the simplest preventive care measures available, adult vaccination.
Vaccination are a safe and cost-effective way to stay healthy, and they’re not just for kids! Vaccines are recommended for adults to protect them from serious and sometimes deadly infectious diseases. Here are few you should know about:
Get a Flu Shot While You Shop
The CDC and flu experts recommend that just about everyone get a flu vaccination every year. Why? Each year’s vaccine is based on the three strains of influenza virus that are expected to be widespread that season. Short on time? No problem. Flu shots are available at supermarkets, pharmacies, schools, and churches, as well as doctors’ offices. And you can get one anytime during flu season. How easy is that?
HPV Vaccine for Some Men and Women
HPV vaccines protect against some strains of human papilloma virus that cause most cervical cancers in women. One of the available HPV vaccines also protects against most genital warts in men and women. HPV is spread by sexual contact. The vaccine can be given to children as early as age 9, but young adults, especially those who have not had sexual activity, can receive the vaccine, too. It’s available for men and women through age 26.
Tetanus Vaccine: Not Just for Kids
The bacteria that cause tetanus enter the body through wounds or cuts. Tetanus can lead to severe muscle spasms, stiffness, and lockjaw — the inability to open your mouth or swallow. A one-time Tdap (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) vaccine and a Td (tetanus-diphtheria) booster every 10 years are all it takes to prevent it.
Measles/Mumps/Rubella: 3 Vaccines in 1
The “Big 3” childhood diseases — measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) — can hit harder when you’re an adult. One MMR vaccine protects against all three. Most American adults have either had the measles or been vaccinated against it. If you haven’t, you’re still at risk for this highly infectious virus. Even worse, you may be at risk of serious complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis.
Stay Ahead of Chickenpox
If you’ve avoided chickenpox (varicella) so far, don’t push your luck. You can still get it by being in a room with someone who has it. Adults with chickenpox have a higher risk of complications, hospitalization, and death. For example, varicella pneumonia may be more severe in pregnant women and is a medical emergency. Untreated, almost half of pregnant women with varicella pneumonia die. Since chickenpox puts you at risk for shingles, chickenpox vaccine may offer some protection against shingles, too. It also reduces risk of infection in the community, especially among those who are susceptible but can’t be vaccinated, such as pregnant women. Two doses of the vaccine are administered four to eight weeks apart to people 13 and older.
Shingles Vaccine: Important After 60
The virus that gave you chickenpox as a child can strike again as shingles or “herpes zoster” when you’re an adult. Most common after age 60, the painful, blistering shingles rash can damage your eyes and cause long-term pain called postherpetic neuralgia. If you get this rash, you can also infect others with chickenpox. If you’re 60 or older, a one-dose vaccine is recommended to prevent shingles.
Vaccines for Foreign Travel
Travel vaccines aren’t just a good idea. Some are required to enter certain countries. Keep current on your routine vaccinations. The CDC also recommends or requires other vaccinations depending on your destination. Plan on getting them 4 to 6 weeks before you leave. See the doctor even if your trip is closer than 4 weeks away. You may still benefit from vaccines or medication. Your doctor can tell you which vaccines can help you stay healthy.
Pneumococcus: Protect Yourself
Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) protects against almost all pneumococcal bacteria that can cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections, and meningitis. Pneumococcal pneumonia can be severe and deadly, killing 50,000 adults every year. Bloodstream infections occur in 1 in 4 of those with pneumonia and cause about one-third of bacterial meningitis cases in the United States. Ask your doctor about PPSV. It’s recommended if you’re over 65, or if you’re 2-64 and smoke or have asthma, a chronic illness, or a weakened immune system.