Visiting young grandchildren soon? Flying on an airplane or going on a cruise? How about just the grocery store? These are all opportunities to get exposed and to expose others to diseases you can prevent by vaccination. You made sure your children always had their shots up to date. But when was the last time you checked your shot record? Keeping your immunizations up to date protects you from some nasty illnesses. While you might not get full protection from all of them, you’ll get enough protection to make a difference in severity and avoid complications while protecting others more vulnerable than you.
Here are the four most important shots for you to talk to your health care provider about at your next visit. Hey, you could even just make an appointment to get updated, too!
1. Flu vaccine. The once-a-year flu vaccine is a must for everyone. Up to 85 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths and 70 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations are for people 65 and older, according to the CDC.
2. Pneumococcal vaccines. Older adults are more likely to develop complications such as pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis from pneumococcal bacteria. There are now 2 different vaccines you need to get - PCV13 (Prevnar 13) and PPSV23 (Pneumovax 23). The CDC recommends that all adults 65 and older have both shots, a year apart, with the PCV13 first. If you have certain other conditions, you may be advised to get these vaccines sooner.
3. Shingles vaccines. Shingles is a reactivation of the chickenpox virus from childhood. The virus is very irritating to a nerve root and causes a rash along the nerve path. It’s miserable on its own but some people develop chronic pain after they get shingles. The vaccine reduces the chances you’ll get shingles and its complications. Zostavax, the first vaccine developed, is recommended for all people over 60 but it’s effectiveness decreases over time. So Shingrix was developed. If you have had Zostavax, you need to get Shingrix, a series of 2 shots a month apart, too.
4. Tdap vaccine. You need to get a Tdap vaccine once as an adult to protect you from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis or whooping cough. Whooping cough in adults is much milder than in children and infants are very vulnerable to it. Get one to protect any and all young children you may come in contact with. Don’t confuse Td, tetanus and diphtheria with the Tdap.