(BPT) — You want to pass on family traditions — a grandmother’s quilt or dad’s love of books — but no one wants to pass on a serious illness. Take charge of your health and help protect those around you by asking about vaccines at your next doctor’s visit.
Vaccinating our children is commonplace in the United States. But few adults know they need vaccines other than flu vaccine and even fewer are fully vaccinated. Are you one of the millions of adults not aware of the vaccines you need?
Each year, tens of thousands of adults needlessly suffer, are hospitalized and even die as a result of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines. However, a recent national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) survey showed that most U.S. adults are not even aware that they need vaccines throughout their lives to protect against diseases like pertussis, hepatitis, shingles and pneumococcal disease.
Not only can vaccine-preventable diseases make you very sick, but if you get sick, you may risk spreading the disease to others. That’s a risk most of us do not want to take. Infants, older adults and people with weakened immune systems (like those undergoing cancer treatment) are especially vulnerable to infectious diseases. They are also more likely to have severe illness and complications if they do get sick. You can help protect your health and the health of your loved ones by getting your recommended vaccines.
The good news is that getting vaccinated is easier than you think. Adults can get vaccines at doctors’ offices, pharmacies, workplaces, health clinics and health departments. Visit vaccine.healthmap.org to help find a vaccine provider near you. Most health insurance plans cover the cost of recommended vaccines — a call to your insurance provider can give you the details.
Not sure what vaccines you may need? The CDC offers a short quiz at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults to help you find out which vaccines are recommended for you. All adults should get an annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu and Td/Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. You may also need other vaccines based on your age, health conditions, occupation and other factors. If you are planning to travel outside of the United States, check on any additional vaccines you may need. Some travel-related vaccines are part of a series or are needed months prior to your travel to be most effective, so be sure to plan ahead.
For more information about adult vaccines, visit cdc.gov/vaccines/adults.