Adult vaccinations

When I hear about vaccinations my mind always turns to my kids and all those shot records I have to maintain. Rarely do I think about my own vaccinations — and I’m not alone. For many adults, this way of thinking is resulting in an increase in cases of preventable diseases.

One disease in particular, whooping cough (pertussis), is reaching the highest level of incidence in the United States in 50 years. The disease is particularly dangerous to babies 3 months and younger, who usually get it from older siblings or adults. According to a recent news release from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Children’s Health, only 20 percent of adults said they’ve received the whooping cough vaccine in the past 10 years. Sadly, 61 percent said they didn’t know when they were last vaccinated. So what vaccines do we need to get updated and when?

Adult immunizations

I once had a very practical physician tell me the easiest way to remember is to get your tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (Tdap); measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); and chickenpox (varicella) vaccines on each decade birthday. And you should get the flu shot every year. Here is an easy-to-understand chart produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that outlines what vaccines are needed and when. Download the PDF for better readability.

If you are traveling to other countries, the CDC also provides a Travelers’ Health Web page for learning which vaccinations you may need before you travel abroad:

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/