Adult Immunizations - Are You Up to Date?
Parents routinely have their children immunized. Yet, they themselves may lack proper immunization and may get sick of the very same diseases they are trying to protect their children from. In fact many adults don't realize that immunizations wear off, essentially have an expiration date, and a booster shot is needed to ward off the respective diseases. It's a simple fact: The flu shot is not the only immunization adults need!
While waiting for my child to leave pre-school I recently had a discussion with the other mothers about immunizations and the time to get a flu shot. I was glad to hear that most of them considered the flu shot not only for their children but also for themselves. We were discussing possible interactions with the required other immunization shots our little ones are due for. I casually mentioned that I would have to schedule a polio booster for myself. You could have heard a needle drop. Some of the moms looked at me like I had a terrible and highly contagious disease. Finally one of the moms inquired why I would need a polio immunization. None of the moms was aware of the fact that immunizations are not for life. They all were under the impression that ones the rounds of childhood immunizations were finished, they were done with it.
In fact, none of these moms could recall when they had the last of their immunization shots (besides the flu shot) or which immunizations they actually had received when they were a child. When was the last time you had an immunization shot other than the flu shot? Do you even know where your immunization records are? Do you even know whether you received all the relevant shots as a child?
According to the CDC's National Immunization Survey for Adults a range of 37.3% of young adults to 68.8% of senior citizens did take the precaution of an influenza immunization. This is well below the 90% target the CDC had set for the elderly. A similar shortfall occurred in pneumococcal immunizations. Even worse only 2.1% in the age range of 18 to 64 had received a tetanus-diphtheria-whooping cough vaccine, and only 1.9% of adults aged 60 or older had received an immunization against shingles, a disease most commonly occurring in that age group with about 500,000 cases annually.
In comparison, the CDC also established a 90% target for the childhood vaccines and exceeded this target for most of the routinely given vaccines. Deep breathing through the nose is essential and critical. How can i clean my nasal area while I'm at home? To cleanse your sinuses, do nose irrigation. There is a special gadget simplifying the technique of irrigation. This product is Navage and it's realy fantastic and do it's work.
Why do we keep our children well immunized but not the adults? Is it because we perceive the immunizations to only cover childhood diseases? Are we assuming that children are too fragile to handle such diseases but adults could? Aren't the adults aware of the fact that they, too, can catch a childhood disease like measles and chickenpox? Those are in fact more dangerous for adults than they are for children. What about the elderly, whose defenses are already down due to other ailments? Why are adults so negligent about their own health? Shouldn't we set a good example for our children?
One of the reasons why adults are unaware of their immunization requirements is the fact that unlike our children, adults rarely have annual check-ups with their regular doctor. Yes, women have check-ups with their gynecologist but regular immunizations are not part of the discussion there.
Even if we see a doctor regularly, immunizations are not always on the priority list, especially if other ailments require such regular visits. My doctor here in the US never has mentioned immunizations other than the flu shot. Back in Germany my doctor made sure that I was reminded of all required immunizations. When he heard I was moving to the US, he marked on my immunization booklet when my next shots are due and stressed the importance that I keep up with them. In fact, it seems the last time a person in the US will be scrutinized about their personal immunization status is when he/she enters college. US colleges and universities in an effort to prevent mass disease outbreaks among their students usually require them to provide proof proper immunization. But after that, poof! Nobody cares.
But in Germany I also had one great benefit, my insurance company picked up all the costs. This is not the necessarily the case here in the US. Not all insurance companies will pay for regular immunizations for adults. Some will only partially cover the costs. However, for most insured it would equal the amount one would pay for a flu shot, which is around $20 to $25 at least in this area. This is relatively cheap considering that an adult who contracted a childhood disease like polio, measles, chicken pox, or rubella, usually not only gets a more severe case than a child would but also faces a greater likelihood of more severe outcomes, sometimes death.
Another reason why adults don't seek out regular immunization is the believe that those childhood diseases aren't around anymore. Some people think with all the kids being immunized the disease can't spread. Unfortunately this is not true. In fact there is a trend among parents not to have their children immunized for fear that the child could develop autism. Some believe that immunizations are useless and the child will get the disease anyway. Immunization programs in the rest of the world are not as sophisticated as in the US and the respective viruses still find their way into our country. Those lacking immunization are at risk. Measles for example have recently infected 131 people in 15 states. One of the worst outbreaks in a decade.
Another deterrent is the fear of possibly severe side effects. With the headlines full of accusations that vaccines may cause autism, some adults fear it may also be the case for them. A scientific link has not yet been established, but even if there would be link between vaccines and autism, the adult brain is fully developed and an effect on the adult brain should be non-existent.
What it comes down to, we adults really don't have an excuse not to keep up with our immunizations. The CDC has published an adult immunization schedule as a guideline, which indicates that adults should be immunized among others against shingles, pneumonia, HPV, Tetanus, and influenza. Please do yourself and your family a favor and contact your doctor to see which vaccines you may need.