When we hear the word immunization, we often think they are for children. But being protected from contagious diseases is important for all of us.
Immunization is the process by which a person is vaccinated for a certain type of infectious disease, to boost their resistance or immunity. The treatment stimulates the immune system’s antibodies to help better combat the infection. These vaccines save lives. In fact they have decreased the death rate of infectious diseases to less than 5% to date. It is important to know that even though you were vaccinated for a particular type of disease as a child, you may need to get it done again later in life. This is especially important for seniors and those with weakened immune systems.
What should I be immunized for as an adult?
Although rarely fatal, the flu virus may cause complications with those that have compromised immune systems. High risk individuals such as seniors and pregnant women should be vaccinated every year, as the flu virus may have evolved and changed.
The shingles is caused by the same virus as the chicken pox. This is why it is very dangerous to contract the chicken pox as an adult. Shingles causes painful skin rash and blisters, which may spread to the face and eyes and could cause blindness. Even if you have already had chicken pox as a child, the virus could stay in your body and re-activate when your immune system is compromised due to complications or age. Chances of getting the shingles increases after the age of 50, but getting the vaccine reduces your chances by 12-50%.
Depending on your destination, there may be multiple types of diseases you should be vaccinated for. But if you are and avid traveller you should be immunized for polio, diphtheria, hepatitis and the measles regardless. If you are unsure which shots you need, speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic. Just make sure to give it plenty of time as some vaccines may take up to 2 weeks to become fully effective.
Adults who did not receive the following vaccines as a child should make sure they get them right away:
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Measles/Rubella (German Measles)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- Pneumococcal disease (pneumonia) – over the age of 65
Adults may have better developed immune systems than children, but that doesn’t make us immune to diseases. Make sure you get all the necessary immunizations today.