What Vaccinations Are You Missing?

Typically, childhood vaccinations are monitored and meticulously recorded on special sheets from the pediatrician's office while adult vaccinations are often forgotten or overlooked by health care providers.

Approximately 50,000 people die each year from diseases that could be prevented with vaccinations, 36,000 of those deaths are due to the influenza virus.

Many of the immunizations received as children should continue through adulthood. If a person has not received childhood immunizations, then a medical provider will need to determine which ones require a complete series. The Adult Immunization schedule below is considered to start at age 19 and continue past the age of 65.

1. Tetanus or Td: 1 dose repeated every 10 years. Tdap, licensed in 2005, should be used for one of the doses since it also includes pertussis (whooping cough) protection.

2. MMR (measles, mumps and rubella): 1 or 2 doses between ages of 19-49 and 1 dose again when over the age of 50 for a total of 3 adult doses.

3. HPV (Human Papillomavirus): 3 doses through the age of 26 for females.

4. Varicella (chicken pox): 2 doses if over the age of 19.

5. Herpes Zoster (Shingles): 1 dose for adults over the age of 60.

6. Influenza: 1 dose annually

7. Pnemococcal: 1 or 2 doses between the ages of 19 - 64. 1 dose after the age of 65.

8. Hepatitis A: 2 single doses at least 6 months apart, especially for those with chronic liver disease or receiving clotting factors

9. Hepatitis B: 3 single doses, 2 months apart, especially those who have end stage renal disease

10. Meningococcal: 1 or more doses.

More Vaccination Information:

Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Td) are one of the most common immunizations adults continue to receive after childhood. Tetanus infections cause painful muscle spasms that can cause "lock jaw" preventing the person from opening their mouth; deaths have occurred in 16 % of those infected. Tetanus shots should only be given to pregnant women in the 3rd trimester or the postpartum period.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is another typical childhood immunization but only adults born after 1957 need to obtain further vaccination. Measles is a highly infectious disease spread by coughing and sneezing and can causes severe life threatening complications. Mumps causes swelling of the salivary glands along with headache, fever, muscle aches and loss of appetite. Rubella is a viral disease that is spread by coughing and sneezing and is harmful to the unborn fetus of a pregnant woman.

MMR immunizations in adulthood are required for students attending postsecondary school, people or health workers who are exposed to a mumps outbreak, women of childbearing age and those who plan to travel overseas.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the newer immunizations recommended for females under the age of 26. HPV virus has found to be present in over 70% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer, the second leading cause of death in women and is found in other genital cancers. A HPV immunization is currently in progress for young men to receive as well since the virus is transmitted via sexual intercourse.

Varicella or chicken pox vaccine is recommended for adults were born after 1980. Those in close contact with persons at high risk of developing chicken pox, health providers or oversea travelers should be immunized as well. Chicken pox is a highly contagious virus spread by coughing or sneezing. Those with a documented case of herpes zoster or whose lab work verifies immunity do not need the vaccine since they have unknowingly already been exposed to chickenpox.

Pregnant women should only receive a varicella vaccine after their pregnancy is over. People with weakened immune systems such as those with AIDS/HIV, cancer, those who have used steroids recently or received a recent blood transfusion should not obtain a varicella vaccine.

Herpes zoster vaccine is recommended for adults over the age of 60 even if they have had an episode of herpes zoster previously. Herpes zoster causes a painful, blistering rash due to re-exposure to the same virus that causes chicken pox. The rash frequently occurs on one side of the body and can cause pain and numbness that lasts for several weeks.

Some people develop post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) causing chronic pain due to permanent nerve irritation which affects their quality of life. People who are elderly and have weakened immune systems are most at risk.

Influenza vaccines are created and given annually based on which viral strains of flu are anticipated to occur that year. Approximately 1 out of 5 people get the flu each year and over 200,000 are hospitalized. The flu virus is spread by droplets in the air and symptoms are usually a high fever with chills, headache, cough, sore throat and muscle and joint pain.

Flu season extends from the fall to spring and protection starts within two weeks after receiving the vaccine. Adults over the age of 50, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, those who care for other persons at risk such as young children or the elderly and health care providers should get vaccinated. This year, the same risk groups at risk for the regular flu are at increased risk of contracting the H1N1, or swine flu strain. Eventually, there will be plenty of the new vaccine available for everyone.

Pnemococcal disease occurs when a streptococous bacteria enters the lungs causing pneumonia to develop. Symptoms appear as a fever, cough, shortness of breath and chest pain. Pneumonia can progress to become an infection in the blood and brain causing pneumococcal meningitis.

Adults who have chronic illness like heart disease or diabetes and people with reduced resistance to infection should consider receiving this vaccine.

Hepatitis A is the most common vaccination preventable disease people are exposed to during travel. The virus is usually spread by consuming food or water that has had fecal contamination. Adults who have chronic liver disease, men who have sex with other men, users of injected drugs, hemophiliacs and overseas travelers should be immunized.