Are there vaccines that protect against communicable diseases for adults?
Yes! Vaccinations are readily available for such common adult illnesses as influenza (flu), pneumococcal disease, herpes zoster (shingles), human papillomavirus (HPV), pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Vaccinations against less common diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), tetanus (lockjaw), diphtheria and varicella (chickenpox) are also needed by some adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendations clearly identify people who are at risk for these diseases and who should be immunized to prevent these diseases and their complications. Consult your healthcare provider or local health department regarding your own immunization status as well as current immunization recommendations.
Some of these illnesses, once contracted, do not have a cure, and all may cause tremendous health problems, disability or even death. Vaccines are among the safest medical products available; they are very effective, and can prevent the suffering and costs associated with these preventable diseases.
Which vaccinations do adults need?
Where can I obtain my vaccination?
Vaccinations should be available from family doctors and internists. Additionally, your city or county health department or local hospital may hold clinics to administer influenza, pneumococcal, hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines. Many pharmacies offer these and other immunizations. Clinics may also be available in shopping malls, grocery stores, senior centers and other community settings.
How often do I need to be immunized?
What do these vaccines cost?
Out-of-pocket immunization costs vary depending on insurance coverage. Check with your healthcare provider or clinic, and your health insurance plan to determine your costs. For Medicare beneficiaries, both influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations are paid for by Medicare Part B if your healthcare provider accepts the Medicare-approved payment. Zoster vaccine is covered under Medicare Part D.
Are there side effects to these vaccines?
Vaccines are among the safest medical products available. Some common side effects are a sore arm or low grade fever. As with any medical product, there are very small risks that serious problems could occur after getting a vaccine. However, the potential risks associated with the diseases these vaccines prevent are much greater than the potential risks associated with the vaccines themselves. Report any adverse events following immunization to your provider or send a report to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) through their VAERS website at www.vaers.hhs.gov or to receive a form to complete by mail call 1-800-822-7967.
What vaccines do I need if I'm traveling abroad?
Contact your healthcare provider or the public health department as early as possible to check on the vaccinations you may need. Vaccines against certain diseases such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever and typhoid fever are recommended for different countries. The time required to receive all vaccinations will depend on whether you need one dose or a series of doses. A variety of books are available from libraries and bookstores providing information on specific vaccines required by different countries as well as general health measures for travelers. Up-to-date information on immunization recommendations for international travelers is available from the CDC information line for international travelers toll-free at (877) 394-8747 or by visiting the CDC Travel Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx.
Should I have a personal immunization record?
Definitely yes! Every adult should keep a permanent immunization record. It will help you and your healthcare provider ensure that you are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases. It can also prevent needless revaccination during a health emergency or when you change providers. Ask your providers for an immunization record, and be sure to take it with you every time you visit your provider so that it can be reviewed and updated.