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The importance of adult vaccinations

older woman receives annual vaccination from her doctor

Each year, adults across the country take their children to physicians and urgent care centers for influenza vaccinations. For most people, the common perception is that vaccines - not only for the flu, but other ailments as well - are geared exclusively toward either the very young or the elderly. However, many adults forget that they are just as susceptible to illnesses. In fact, according to a 2014 report by the Wistar Institute, adults were actually more susceptible in the 2013-2014 flu season, owing to a new viral mutation of the influenza bug. That's why it's so important that more adults get themselves vaccinated, and often, the first step is learning what shots are required as well as the consequences of missed vaccinations.

"In 2011, there were 4,000 deaths from pneumococcal pneumonia."

A genuine concern
It's important to look at statistics when examining the extent of the adult vaccination problem. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest data available is from early 2013 and paints a slightly problematic portrait. In 2011, there were 4,000 deaths from pneumococcal pneumonia - the vast majority of which were adults age 65 and over. Yet only 62 percent of all adults age 65 and older ever received the pneumococcal vaccine. In 2012, there were 9,300 cases of whooping cough, the highest rate in a single year since 1955. There are other issues as well, especially pertaining to both hepatitis A and B. In high-risk adults, only 36 percent received an annual hep B booster, while that stat fell to 13 percent for hep A vaccinations.

Which adult immunizations are necessary?
According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, there are a dozen or so ailments that require adult immunizations. They include:

  • Seasonal influenza.
  • Pneumococcal pneumonia.
  • Hepatitis A and B.
  • Whooping cough.
  • Tetanus.
  • HPV (human papillomavirus).
  • Measles, mumps and rubella.

However, not all adults need every one of those vaccines, and there are certain groups who are deemed as high risk. For instance, patients over age 60 should receive a shingle vaccine once per year. Meanwhile, diabetic patients - regardless of age - would benefit from an annual hepatitis B vaccination. Anyone born after 1957 should get a second dose of the MMR vaccine by middle age. There are even certain time frames for some vaccines: The meningococcal vaccine is required for first-year college students. The CDC has printable schedules detailing which people need what vaccines the most, and the best times to get said boosters or injections.

Why should I get vaccinated?
As the NFID pointed out, there are a number of different benefits of vaccinations - the least of which is actually safeguarding yourself from several potentially fatal diseases. For one, you help protect loved ones and colleagues. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, individuals who receive vaccinations contribute to a process called herd immunity. That is, the more people who are inoculated against a certain pathogen, the better protected the rest of the world will be from these ailments. Effectively, you can pass on your immunity to other people.

"HPV and hepatitis B can increase your risk of cancer."

Vaccines can also lead to reductions in your annual healthcare costs, as being healthy means fewer sick days and less money spent on various healthcare remedies. Plus, vaccines help to lower the risk of other life-threatening ailments; for instance, both HPV and hepatitis B can increase your risk of cancer.

Take care
The next time you need a vaccination or just a booster shot, you can always head to a CareWell Urgent Care location. Located across the Eastern seaboard, CareWell offers annual vaccinations for every member of your family, with a huge emphasis on flu shots. You can even save an spot online to get in and out of the door in almost no time.

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