10 Reasons Why Adults Still Need Vaccines

Do grown-ups still need vaccines? Every year, 50,000 people in the United States die from vaccine-preventable diseases, which accounts for more than the number of people who die from HIV, AIDS, breast cancer, or traffic accidents combined, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. This one statistic should convey the message that age isn’t a factor when it comes to vaccines we all need them to prevent deadly or contagious diseases. Adults need vaccines for a number of reasons, depending on age, lifestyle, high-risk medical histories, and travel plans. Here are 10 reasons why adults should get regular immunizations to promote optimal health.

  1. You may need vaccines when traveling

    Not being previously exposed to diseases like malaria, yellow fever, polio, and rabies puts you at a high risk of falling ill. A traveler’s vaccinations are important because they protect against diseases that are still very much prevalent in many parts of the world. Before you leave the country, check the Center for Disease Control and Prevention for recommended and required vaccinations depending on travel destination. For example, vaccinations against yellow fever are required when traveling to areas in Africa and tropical South America. Annual pilgrimages to Mecca will also require the meningococcal vaccination.

  2. Newer vaccines have been developed since your childhood

    Maintaining awareness of new vaccines is still very much a challenge. Many newly added recommended vaccines for adults have just been developed, and adults assume that vaccine updates have little or no effect on their health. Not taking advantage of vaccine updates such as hepatitis B, influenza, and HPV leaves your immune system just as vulnerable as when you were children.

  3. You work in the health care profession

    Chances are, you come into close contact with many sick patients every day if you are a health care professional. This exposure can lead to all sorts of potential infections, even when following appropriate sanitary procedures. Health care professionals should be regularly immunized and receive the annual influenza vaccination.

  4. Some vaccines are made only for adults

    The shingles vaccination, which guards against severe rashes and skin exacerbations, is a great example of an “adult-only” vaccination. Booster doses for tetanus and whooping cough (diphtheria and pertussis) are recommended for adults 65 years and older, and pneumococcal vaccines are ideal for adults with specific health conditions.

  5. Help protect your kids & family members

    Adults who come into close contact with young children and babies should strongly consider getting regular immunizations, especially the annual flu vaccine. Since there is no flu vaccine for infants younger than six months old, it is important for adults to get immunized to reduce the spread of illness to younger children. The same goes with whooping cough vaccines.

  6. Protection you receive from childhood vaccines decreases over time

    Some vaccines require a booster if you want to remain protected. Even if you received comprehensive immunizations during your youth, protection could diminish over time, and without a required booster, you leave your immune system defenseless. For example, tetanus requires a booster vaccine once every 10 years.

  7. You are (or have been) sexually active with a number of partners

    Adults should strongly consider getting the hepatitis B vaccine, since hepatitis B can be transmitted through contact with semen, blood, and/or vaginal fluid. You may not know your partner’s comprehensive vaccine history, so protect yourself first and foremost. It is 50 to 100 times more easy to get infected by hepatitis B than HIV, according to the World Health Organization.

  8. You have a chronic disease

    Heart and lung disease, diabetes, or asthma are all chronic conditions that may compromise your immune system. Getting the pneumococcal vaccine helps prevent other serious diseases like meningitis, blood infections, and pneumonia caused by Streptococcus pneumonia. People who already have chronic diseases may be at a greater risk for these infections because of weaker immune systems.

  9. Protect yourself against viral infections

    Measles, mumps, and rubella are all common viral infections. Rubella, also known as German measles, is especially serious if contracted during pregnancy. Adults born during or after 1957 who didn’t get the vaccine as a child should get the combined measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

  10. You’re going back to college

    Adults seeking a career change and considering going back to college should get a check-up for necessary vaccines. Many old records for vaccinations are not comprehensive or up to current standards. If you can’t find your old records, or your childhood doctor is no longer practicing, you’ll need vaccines for hepatitis B, meningitis, and other infectious diseases like tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.