VALPARAISO – Vaccinations can prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases. Family Medicine physician Kajal Patel, M.D., suggests now is the perfect time to remind family, friends and co-workers to get caught up on these important immunizations.
“The need for immunizations doesn’t end when you become an adult. Being up-to-date protects you and your loved ones from illness,” shares Dr. Patel, a board-certified physician with Portage Medical Group. “In fact, as we age we become more susceptible to serious disease caused by common infections.”
Throughout life, people need immunizations to maintain their protection; and over time, as a person ages their immunity begins to fade and may require additional vaccinations. The specific immunizations needed as an adult are determined by factors such as age, lifestyle, health condition, location of travel and previous immunizations. In general, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend the following vaccines for adults:
Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap): This vaccine protects against whooping cough, which the CDC reports has seen resurgence in recent years due to either the waning effectiveness of a previous vaccination or the lack of proper vaccination as a child.
Dr. Patel recommends that people receive a tetanus booster every 10 years to keep the immunity active. She also suggests women who are pregnant should receive a Tdap vaccine during every pregnancy to protect the unborn child. “Proper vaccination not only protects you, but it also protects your loved ones such as babies, older people, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions,” she says. “With proper vaccination, we can create a community of immunity and reduce the risk of outbreaks.”
Seasonal Influenza (flu): The CDC recommends that all people ages 6 months and older should have a flu vaccination each year. The CDC reports “flu season” can begin as early as October and last as late as May. A flu shot is the best way to help prevent the spread of the influenza, which is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometime even death.
“We are all busy people and cannot afford to miss work or school or not be able to care for our family. The flu vaccine helps decrease your chances of being sick so you can continue to focus on more important things in life,” reminds Dr. Patel. “Getting the shot isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get the flu, but it does decrease your risk of the potentially serious complications that could develop due to influenza infection.”
Shingles: This vaccination is needed for those 60 years and older, even if they have had shingles before. It’s important to remember the older a person is, the more severe the effects of shingles typically are, according to the CDC.
Dr. Patel explains that people at high risk of shingles are those who had chickenpox as a child. However, she recommends that everyone 60 or older have the vaccination, regardless of whether they had chickenpox as a child or not. “The debilitating pain caused by shingles can last for weeks to years. It’s best to be to be protected,” she shares.
Pneumococcal disease: Recommended for those 65 and older and other adults with specific health conditions, the CDC reports this vaccine helps safeguard against bacterial infections caused by pneumococcus – the most common cause of bloodstream infections, pneumonia, meningitis and middle ear infections.
Dr. Patel says people should talk with their doctor about whether the pneumonia vaccine is recommended for them.
Other vaccinations that may be needed include those to protect against human papillomavirus, hepatitis A, meningococcal disease, chickenpox (varicella), and measles, mumps and rubella. Visit this chart from the CDC for more information about the 2016 recommendations: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/downloads/adult/adult-schedule-easy-read.pdf
Dr. Patel reminds us that even healthy people get sick and that everyone should take the necessary steps for protection.
“Illness doesn’t discriminate between healthy or not. Sure, people with a chronic condition have a weaker immune system, but even a healthy person with a robust immune system can get sick,” she says. “If people don’t protect themselves and their loved ones, they become more susceptible to illness and potentially life-threatening conditions. Prevention is better than cure.”
If you need a family doctor to meet your health needs, visit PorterPhysicianGroup.com or call (844) PPG-DOCS (774-3627).