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Adult Vaccines: What They Are and Who Should Get Them

Vaccinations keep your immune system strong by helping your body fight off bacteria that cause infections and potentially life-threatening diseases. It is still important to get immunizations as an adult because immunity from childhood vaccinations can wear off over time. Use these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to stay on schedule with adult immunizations:

Influenza: Every person should get the flu vaccine each year. Influenza can cause serious harm to people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart disease. The best way to protect yourself and others around you is to get vaccinated yearly.

Td/Tdap/Tetanus: Tetanus is an infection caused by a bacteria found in soil, dust or manure. The tetanus vaccine is available with the diphtheria (Td) vaccine or the diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. Adults should receive the Tdap if they did not receive it as a child, and every adult should receive a Td booster every 10 years.

Shingles Zoster: Contrary to popular belief, if you had chicken pox during childhood, you can still get shingles in adulthood because they are caused by the same virus. It may be inactive in the body, but it can reactivate years later, causing shingles. Doctors recommend all healthy adults ages 50 and older get this vaccination, even if you have had shingles. There are two types: RZV for adults at 50 and ZVL for those 60 and older.

Pneumococcal: Pneumococcal disease is an infection that causes pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis. The bacteria could cause lifelong complications or even death. There are two variations of this vaccine. You may need one or both, depending on your age and health condition.

Meningococcal: Meningococcal disease is common among college students, international travelers and military personnel. The meningococcal bacteria can cause brain damage, limb loss and deafness. There are two types of meningococcal vaccines. You may need one or both, depending on your health condition.

Check with your primary care physician to stay on schedule for all your recommended immunizations. 

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