Monday, November 23, 2009

Don’t Forget Your Other Vaccinations

There has been lots of media attention on flu vaccines this year, and especially the vaccine for the N1H1 (or swine) flu, which has reached pandemic proportions throughout the world. People most susceptible to the swine flu should get the H1N1 vaccine, and that includes children, adults under 65 years of age, healthcare workers, pregnant women and people with asthma, other lung disease or heart, liver, kidney, blood or immune system problems.

But, even as people are clamoring for their flu shots, many adults are forgetting another important part of preventive medicine, booster shots for those immunizations most of us got as children years ago. Childhood immunizations can fade over time, and some vaccinations require boosters in order to stay effective. Depending on age and medical history, it may be time to update your own vaccination record.

According to 2008 data from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, only 63% of adults under age 50 have received a tetanus shot (Td) in the last 10 years, while only 52% have had a recent vaccination for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (Tdap). Only 25% of adults under age 65 with a high-risk status report having ever received a pneumococcal vaccination and just 17% of those between 19-49 received an influenza vaccine this past flu season, according to the NHIS (

A new kind of tetanus booster now offers added protection against pertussis, also known as whooping cough, and can help prevent the spread of pertussis among children who are too young to be fully vaccinated. Other recommendations include vaccines that protect against shingles, meningitis, hepatitis and human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer in women.

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