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Adult Immunizations

You might think that the vaccines you received as a child will protect you for the rest of your life. But, the benefits of some vaccines fade throughout time. Plus, some vaccines are offered only to adults. Talk to your doctor about which immunizations you need. In addition to flu and pneumonia immunizations, your doctor may recommend shots for chickenpox and the related disease shingles (herpes zoster), diphtheria/tetanus and whooping cough (pertussis).

The annual flu vaccine is especially recommended for people who have a high risk for severe complications, including adults ages 50 and older and seniors who live in nursing or long-term care facilities. A new shot is required every year because it is reformulated to provide the best coverage against that year's expected flu strains. A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the vaccine helps prevent hospitalizations in older people, even when the overall vaccine effectiveness is low. It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine for the current flu season!

A vaccine for pneumonia can help protect you against serious flu complications. According to the American Lung Association, the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV) is recommended for anyone older than 65 and is effective in approximately 60 to 80 percent of adults with healthy immune systems. Though PPSV is usually only required once, a second dose may be needed after five years in people older than 65 who received their first dose before they were 65. Talk to your doctor about the two types of pneumonia vaccine and the timing for getting the shot.

A chickenpox vaccine is recommended for seniors who never got the disease or who got just one dose of the vaccine. Shingles, caused by the same virus, becomes more common with age, and you should also get that vaccine if you are older than 60

A booster shot for diphtheria and tetanus—both serious bacterial infections—is recommended for seniors every 10 years; the Tdap vaccine covers these two diseases, as well as whooping cough, which you may unwittingly transmit to a young family member if you do not get the booster.

Your doctor can review with you the shots you should get and how to get them scheduled. As in childhood, vaccines can help keep you disease-free, healthy and strong.

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