Vaccines aren't just for kids anymore

Jun 30, 2013

For some grown-ups, vaccines bring up thoughts of childhood when dreaded shots were followed by a cool Band-Aid and perhaps a lollipop. However, public health officials say immunizations are just as important for adults. This week on “Take Care,” we talk to Dr. Carolyn Bridges, associate director for adult immunizations at the Centers for Disease Control.

Click 'Read More' to hear our interview with Dr. Carolyn Bridges.

An immunization helps the body develop antibodies or protection against diseases. Components in a vaccine mimic the disease so the body can fight the virus without getting sick, or without getting as sick. And scientists develop new vaccines all the time.

“It’s really important to keep up, and have a continuing dialogue with your physician, your other healthcare providers and your pharmacist. They can help you stay up on which vaccines you’re recommended to receive,” said Dr. Bridges.

Vaccines recommended for some adults include the flu shot, tetanus shot, the pneumonia vaccine, and the shingles vaccine (more details below).

While vaccines are covered by most insurance plans, Dr. Bridges always suggests checking with your provider before getting immunized. Some plans require you get vaccines at your primary care doctor, some pay for shots given elsewhere, like your local pharmacy or public health department. Medicare Plan B covers the influenza, tetanus and pneumococcal vaccines.

Here are more details about the vaccines Dr. Bridges suggests that every adult look into:

  • Influenza vaccine: everyone is susceptible to the flu. The vaccine changes every year the best way to prevent getting the flu is to get the vaccine.
  • Tetanus shot: the booster shot should be administered every 10 years. At least one dose of the shot in a lifetime should be Tdap, which also prevents diphtheria and pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough.
  • Shingles vaccine: The CDC recommends this vaccine for adults over 60.
  • Pneumococcal vaccine: this vaccine is recommended for people 65 years old and older, although sometimes it is important for those younger adults as well.