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MUSC Health Blog

Keyword: immunization

You want to pass on certain things like 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, and even fewer are fully vaccinated.

In 2013, only 24 percent of adults ages 60 and older had received a shingles vaccine and only 17 percent of adults older than 19 had received a Tdap vaccine.

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 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 certain diseases 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.

What vaccines do you need?

All adults should get:

* Annual flu vaccine to protect against seasonal flu

* Td/Tdap to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis

Some additional vaccines you may need (depending on your age, health conditions and other factors) include:

* Hepatitis A

* Hepatitis B

* Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

* Meningococcal

* Pneumococcal

* Shingles

Traveling overseas? There may be additional vaccines you need depending on the location. Find out at www.cdc.gov/travel

Not sure what vaccines you may need? The CDC offers a short quiz at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adultquiz to help you find out which vaccines you might need. You can take the results of your quiz to your provider to discuss which vaccines are right 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 U.S., 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: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults.


National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder

that we all need vaccines throughout our lives.

 

From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started protecting your baby. You might have changed the way you eat, started taking a prenatal vitamin, and researching the kind of car seat you’ll buy. But did you know that one of the best ways to start protecting your children against serious diseases is by making sure you get the whooping cough (Tdap) and flu vaccines while you are pregnant?

The vaccines you get during your pregnancy will provide your baby with some disease protection (immunity) that will last the first months of life. By getting vaccinated during your pregnancy, your baby may benefit from passive antibody transfer that will help protect against diseases. This early protection is critical for diseases like the flu and whooping cough because infants in the first several months of life are at the greatest risk of severe illness from these diseases. However, they are too young to be vaccinated themselves. Passing maternal antibodies on to them is the only way to help directly protect them.

Passing the protection to your newborn isn’t the only reason you should get vaccinated. Whooping cough and flu vaccines are also important for you. In cases when doctors are able to determine who spread whooping cough to an infant, the mother was often the source. Once you have protection by getting the Tdap vaccine, you are less likely to give whooping cough to your newborn while caring for him.

When it comes to flu, even if you are generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to have a severe case of the flu if you catch it. If you catch the flu when you are pregnant, you have a higher chance of experiencing pregnancy complications, such as premature labor and delivery. Getting a flu shot will help protect you and your baby while you are pregnant.

You can also rest assured that these vaccines are very safe for you and your baby. Millions of pregnant women have safely received flu shots for many years, and the CDC continues to gather data showing that the flu shot is safe and effective during pregnancy.

The whooping cough vaccine is also very safe for you and your unborn baby. Doctors and midwives who specialize in caring for pregnant women agree that the whooping cough vaccine is important to get during the third trimester of each pregnancy. Getting the vaccine during your pregnancy will not put you at increased risk for pregnancy complications.

You can get the whooping cough and flu vaccine at the same time during your pregnancy. You can also get them at different visits. If you are pregnant during flu season, you should get the flu vaccine as early as possible. You should get your whooping cough vaccine between your 27th and 36th week of pregnancy, but you can get a flu shot during any trimester.

If you want to learn more about pregnancy and vaccines, talk to your ob-gyn or midwife and visit http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/pregnant.html.


We all need shots (also called vaccinations or immunizations) to help protect us from serious diseases. To help keep our community safe, MUSC Health is participating in National Immunization Awareness Month by sharing information about vaccinations - who needs them, and what do they need.

Shots can prevent serious diseases like the flu, measles, and pneumonia. It’s important to know which shots you need and when to get them.

Everyone age 6 months and older needs to get a flu vaccine every year. Other shots work best when they are given at certain ages.

Talk to your doctor or nurse to make sure that everyone in your family gets the shots they need. To learn more, visit MUSCHealth.org.

 

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