This is an informational article by Rob MacGregor on adult vaccinations this flu season. Click to read more.
Adult Immunization Recommendations February 2010
Here are important current recommendations for adult immunizations: officially, they are for people 65 and above, but 55 or 60 are reasonable targets.
• one dose of Tdap: this contains a tetanus booster (T - recommended for every 10 years), a small booster of diphtheria toxoid (d - which brings your childhood immunization back up, reduces your likelihood of becoming an symptom-free carrier of the organism if you are exposed, and will protect you from disease if we had an epidemic like that in the former Soviet Union in the late 1990s). Finally, the ap stands for acellular pertussis, the whooping cough vaccine. Older adults don’t die of whooping cough, but about 15% of their persistent cough episodes in the winter in the US are caused by pertussis. It’s not fun, and easily preventable by the Tdap booster. Furthermore, it keeps you from spreading the germ to your potentially vulnerable young grandchildren.
• Shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine: shingles is a painful local activation of chicken pox virus that remains dormant in nerve roots following a childhood case. So, if you’ve had chicken pox (and 80% of people who think they haven’t do have antibody showing that they actually DID have a case), you should get the shingles vaccine, because the attacks are painful, and can leave you with continued bothersome pain at the site of the rash for months after it has resolved. Moreover, your shingles can spread chicken pox to vulnerable people – like your grandchildren.
• yearly dose of influenza vaccine: reduces our risk of contracting influenza, and if contracted, reduces the severity of the episode. This year, you need the regular vaccine plus the H1N1 – both now available.
• Pneumovax (pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine): It only protects against the pneumococcus, which is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia in adults. It doesn’t protect against any other bacteria or viruses, so remember that the term “pneumonia” is a general one, meaning infection of the lung or lungs. There are many possible causes of lung infection, and pneumovax and influenza vaccine are the only protections now available. The need for and frequency of boosters of pneumovax is debated, but I wouldn’t consider a booster at less than 10 year intervals.
Here is a detailed discussion of adult vaccines from CDC in Atlanta: