Immunizations—Not Just For Kids Anymore!
As the weather begins to cool and the kids have returned to school, our thoughts begin to turn to other events now that summer is over. Fairs, Halloween, and football are now filling our minds, but in my office we also begin to think of influenza season.
We all remember our childhood immunizations that are likely our first and most remarkable encounter with the medical profession. I’m sure that memories of those painful “shots” linger in most of us into adulthood.
The news is that adult immunizations are now a major part of the treatment of our adult and especially our senior population. Adult immunizations have become far more than the annual “flu shot.” Here are a few of the current recommendations from the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for adults:
Influenza immunization is recommended for everyone over six months of age. While the flu can be a real inconvenience to a healthy adult, it can be life threatening to infants, senior citizens and others with health issues. The immunization is available at doctor’s offices, pharmacies and the health department. Year-to-year the effectiveness of the flu shot has varied, but has still been a public health success.
Herpes Zoster vaccination (shingles)—Just ask someone whose had shingles if they would take a shot to prevent the event. The shingles is a remote occurring complication of chicken pox. After the childhood illness passes, a few particles of the virus lay dormant in our spinal cords. Decades later, the virus can reactivate and spreads along the nerves branching off of the spinal cord. Painful small blisters erupt in the nerve endings and can cause severe pain for weeks on end till they finally dry. There can be permanent nerve damage causing long term pain long after the blisters have dried. There is an immunization available to reduce the risk or the severity of the disease. The immunization, Zostavax, is recommended for those over sixty years of age. Zostavax can be pricey, but it is covered by most insurance and is also available at pharmacies.
Streptococcal pneumonia is a major cause of death among senior citizens. There is an immunization available to reduce or prevent that major health problem. Again, the CDC recommends it for healthy people over sixty-five years of age. With a newer version of the vaccination only one injection is indicated. Over a period of time an additional one provides more protection.
Other immunizations seniors may consider, include tetanus (lock jaw) diphtheria (we are always a afraid of recurrence) and pertussis (whooping cough) to control the spread to young children we may expose.
Special populations may consider hepatitis immunizations, and in the future we may be able to immunize to prevent several forms of cancer. So our kids will continue to get their shots, and now adults can benefit from this preventive care as well.
October 17, 2016
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