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Front Page » November 16, 2006 » Focus on Health » Immunizations are not just for kids
Published 3,249 days ago

Immunizations are not just for kids

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In addition to having traditional check-ups to monitor things such as blood pressure, adults need to stay on top of their vaccinations as well.

Most people remember making trips as a kid to the doctor's office for routine checkups. More often than not such trips were nothing to look forward to. A big reason for this was immunizations - a painful rite of passage that all children had to endure at one time or another.

But as much as immunizations, or shots, might be looked at as a means of protecting children from disease, adults should recognize the necessity of continuing to get immunizations as well. While certain immunizations need only be administered once, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) adults need to stay on top of things with respect to the following shots:

•Measles-mumps-rubella shot (MMR). Most people get this shot when they're young children. In fact, most school boards mandate this shot be administered before a child can enroll. Still, not everyone has necessarily gotten the shot, which is typically administered to toddlers who are between 12 and 15 months old and then again to children at age 11.

Getting an MMR shot is especially important for women, as failure to do so can lead to birth defects if a woman contracts rubella when pregnant. A pregnant woman in her first trimester who contracts rubella can make her fetus susceptible to congenital rubella syndrome (CRS), resulting in defects such as deafness, mental retardation and malformation of the heart, among others. Still, rubella has largely been eradicated in most developed countries, where many people get their necessary vaccinations while still a child.

•Tetanus-diphtheria shot (TD). A tetanus shot is another vaccination most people associate strictly with childhood. But tetanus shots should be received once every 10 years, regardless of age. Tetanus, also referred to as lockjaw, can be contracted by people who fail to get vaccinated. Tetanus can negatively affect the central nervous system and while many associate the disease with stepping on rusty nails, tetanus bacteria can enter the body through cuts as small as a pinprick or scratch.

•Flu shots. Recent flu shot shortages made many people think they need a flu shot. That's not necessarily the case. According to AHRQ, people under age 50 generally do not need flu vaccinations. However, that isn't to say all people under age 50 shouldn't get a flu shot. Those who feel as though they suffer from the flu each flu season would be wise to get a flu shot. Also, people under age 50 who suffer from lung, kidney or heart disease or diabetes or cancer might need to get a flu shot. Healthcare workers as well as HIV or AIDS patients are also advised to get annual flu shots.

•Pneumonia shot. Pneumonia shots are typically most appropriate for people age 65 and older, and should be received by all people once they reach age 65. However, similar to flu shots, people suffering from other ailments where your immune system is weakened, such as HIV or AIDS, should get pneumonia shots regardless of age. Lung, heart or kidney disease patients also should get a pneumonia shot.

•Hepatitis B shot. Hepatitis B shots are certainly not something the general population needs to be concerned about. However, they are especially important for anyone who has engaged in sexual intercourse with more than one partner or someone infected with hepatitis B or a sexually transmitted disease. In addition, anyone who has injected street drugs should get a hepatitis B shot. Also, anyone whose job entails regular contact with blood should receive a hepatitis B shot. Due to the potentially deadly nature of hepatitis B, which can cause liver failure, scarring of the liver or liver cancer, and the success of proper treatment (most people with limited infection can fight off the disease within a few months and develop an immunity to last the rest of their lives), the importance of getting a hepatitis B shot is paramount to anyone who fits the aforementioned criteria.

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