Adult Immunizations: June 19, 2011

If you think immunizations are kids stuff, then think again. Doctors say grownups need them too.

“Certainly everyone over 40 as part of the questions that you bring to your physician, “which immunizations should I have as part of my wellness exam?” says Dr. Sal Lacagnina, vice president of health and wellness for Lee Memorial Health System.

In particular, older adults should get an annual flu shot. This illness is highly contagious and can cause significant problems including hospitalization and death, says Dr. Lacagnina.

It’s extremely important for people with asthma, diabetes and compromised immune systems.

You should also have a pneumonia vaccine as you get older; certainly above the age of 65, says Dr. Lacagnina. The vaccine doesn’t prevent pneumonia, but lessens the chance of serious complications such as infections.

Another shot to consider is the T-Dap, which is Tentanus, Dipheria and Pertussis. “Pertussis is a disease that’s on the rise right now, whooping cough, and so most adults may need a shot for that also” says Dr. Lacagnina.

A lesser known shot is the shingles vaccine. In clinical trials it reduced the risk of shingles by 50%. A single dose is recommended for adults 60 and older.

Together these make up a proper preventative plan.