Nobody likes getting shots.
As kids, we generally accept them, almost as a rite of passage. As adults, we may feel that we have outgrown the need for vaccines. In 2018, 87 percent of children in Utah were vaccinated, but the number dropped to about 70 percent for adults.
Becoming an adult makes you eligible to vote and helps you get cheaper car insurance, but it doesn’t get you off the hook for getting your vaccines.
Here are four shots you should make sure you get as an adult:
You’re never too old to get a flu shot. In fact, a flu shot is incredibly important for the old and young to protect them from dangerous complications from the flu. The flu can be deadly at any age, but children under the age of five and people over age 65 have a higher risk of complications. A flu vaccine is recommended for everyone older than six months. Getting a shot at the beginning of flu season is the best option, but it’s not too late to protect yourself if you wait till later in the season.
While you’re at the doctor’s office getting your flu vaccine, check to see if you need a pneumococcal vaccine as well. This vaccine can be given at the same time as a flu shot or at any other time in the year as well. Pneumococcal disease causes meningitis, sepsis, or pneumonia, and kills thousands of people every year. Seniors account for 18,000 of those deaths, and other groups of people with weakened immune systems are at risk as well. The vaccine is recommended for everyone over age 65, as well as at-risk groups.
“Pneumococcal disease is especially dangerous for people over age 65,” says Robert Gerken, administrator at Newport Nursing and Rehab Center. “Getting a vaccine can help prevent hospitalization or even death from serious illness.”
The Tdap vaccine protects you from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. You might see it given as different kinds of shots: DTaP, Tdap, and Td. Infants get three doses of DTaP, followed by three boosters throughout childhood. While you have probably been vaccinated against these diseases before, you may not know you need to get regular booster shots. Pregnant women should get a Tdap shot during the third trimester, and other adults should get a Td booster every 10 years.
The risk of getting shingles and associated postherpetic neuralgia increases with age, but there is a vaccine that is highly effective in preventing it. The Shingrix vaccine is between 89 and 97 percent effective in preventing shingles and PHN. While the effectiveness goes down slightly with age, it was shown to be 85 percent effective even four years after vaccination for people over age 70. The vaccine is recommended for all adults over age 50 and is given in two doses.
You’re never too old to protect yourself against preventable diseases. If you don’t know what vaccines or boosters you need, now is a great time to head to the doctor to find out. You might even get a lollipop for your bravery.
A version of this article was published by the Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.