HEALTH MATTERS: ADULT IMMUNIZATIONS, APRIL 12, 2017

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Immunizations are often considered something just for children before they head to day care or school for the first time, but immunizations are important for adults, too.

Dr. Jane Weida at University Medical Center in Tuscaloosa says skipping your shots can result in some nasty consequences.

Adults should be getting a tetanus and diphtheria shot every 10 years, Weida says, and it’s a good idea to get a whooping cough booster, too.

 

“We’ve been having whooping cough outbreaks,” she says. “And this is to protect other people who are not immunized or are not fully immunized.”

 

Getting a whooping cough vaccine is especially necessary for any adults in close proximity to babies too young for any immunizations.

Adults can easily mistake a mild case of whooping cough for a cold, Weida says, and then spread the infection to anyone too young for the vaccine.

Another immunization Weida says could be important for adults is for shingles. That vaccine is recommended for anyone older than 50, but most health plans don’t pay for it until age 60, she says.

“Shingles is a horrible, horrible disease,” she says. “You have to have had chickenpox first, though. Most of us got (chickenpox) in childhood, but we’re immunizing children for that now.”

Children who received the chickenpox vaccination, which started being offered in 1995, will not have to deal with the possibility of getting shingles, Weida says.

The shingles vaccine doesn’t come cheap, though. Weida says the average cost is about $200 out of pocket.

A flu shot is also a yearly must, Weida says, unless you’re allergic to eggs. Getting the shot means your chances of getting the flu are lower, but it also means you won’t be giving it to anyone else.

If you don’t have insurance, the Alabama Health Department offers several immunizations for low or no cost, and there are doctor’s offices and clinics that offer doctor’s visits on a sliding scale for those without insurance.

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