As an adult, there are three vaccines you should be aware of and discuss with your doctor.
Pertussis Booster Vaccine
This is a vaccine to prevent whooping cough. It turns out that the series of shots we all received as a child, did not prove to give us a lifetime of immunity like we thought. This is a disease that causes a terribly annoying cough for most adults, but can kill a newborn. If you are an expecting parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, you will want to get this one time booster (if you have not already) before you cuddle with any little ones.
This is a one-time vaccine to help prevent Shingles (Herpes Zoster). If you had chicken pox as a kid (which is most of us born before 1995- the year we started vaccinating for this), you are at risk for developing this painful, blistering rash. The Chicken pox virus can stay latent in your nervous system and when you get older or are under stress your immune system weakens, allowing for the virus to wake up and cause a lot of pain. The pain can last for months after the rash, it can also damage your eyesight if it involves a nerve on your face. The recommendation is to receive this vaccine at 60 years old but it can be given after 50 years old if you and your doctor decide.
This one time vaccine helps prevent the transmission of common bacteria, Streptococcus pneumonia. These bacteria can cause pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis; all of which can be life threatening for adults with a weak immune system and people over 65 years old. Therefore, it is recommended for those over 65 and young adults with certain health conditions. Be sure to ask about these 3 vaccines at your next physical exam with your primary care physician.
By Dr. Marcia Whalen, D.O.