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Better Safe Than Sorry — or Worse

5 reasons adults should stay up-to-date on vaccines

Some adults think they don’t need to take vaccines. They think they’re covered thanks to all the shots they got back in school. And besides, it’s not like you’re going to die from any of those diseases out there.

Actually, you could. Take just one vaccine-preventable disease: meningitis. According to the National Meningitis Association, each year around 1,500 Americans contract the disease — most of them adults. And more than 10% of those cases end in death. Given the total population of the U.S., those numbers may sound low. Until you’re the one who gets the disease.

The meningitis vaccine isn’t the only one you may need as an adult. Other commonly recommended vaccines for adults include flu, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), shingles, pneumonia, and Hepatitis B.

If you still need convincing, here are five great reasons to stay up to date with your vaccines:

  1. You may no longer be protected. Even if you received a vaccine as a child, some vaccines require a booster.
  2. Certain vaccines are just for adults. The shingles vaccine, for example, is one you never received as a child. It’s recommended if you’re 60 or older.
  3. You may need certain ones when you travel. You don’t need the yellow fever vaccine here in the U.S., but you do if you travel to certain parts of the world.
  4. Newer, more effective vaccines now exist. Vaccine research is moving forward all the time; it’s important to take advantage of it.
  5. Health care workers need more protection. That’s because you’re exposed to lots of possible infections, as well as blood and bodily fluids.

Ask your doctor if you’re up to date with your vaccines. To help you determine which ones you may need, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a quick online quiz you can take. You’ll find it at www2.cdc.gov/nip/adultimmsched/.

What experiences have you had with vaccines as an adult?