Immunization is not just for children
PANAMA. Even with with patients that go for a regular check-up one aspect of care that is frequently omitted is vaccines. Yes, it is n...
PANAMA. Even with with patients that go for a regular check-up one aspect of care that is frequently omitted is vaccines. Yes, it is not just for kids. In fact, , in the United States, an adult is at far greater risk of dying from a vaccine preventable disease than children. Vaccination is a safe, simple and effective way to prevent life threatening illnesses. As the old saying goes an ounce of prevention?.
Which immunization should you get? It depends on your age, your profession, your general health, and even your lifestyles.
The generally recommended vaccines for adults are:
Influenza (Flu) Vaccine: With the current pandemic of Swine Flu (A/H1N1) more people are aware of the importance of the need for flu vaccine. It is the most recommended for adults. Influenza attacks can be devastating, and a healthy person can lose days of productive work.
Persons over 60 year old, and those with diabetes, emphysema or other illnesses are at greatest risk. One shot every year is recommended. In the northern hemisphere it given in October or November.
In the tropics is usually recommended in March, April.
Pneumococcal Vaccine: It prevents the most common type of Pneumonia. It is usually offered to patients over age 65, but also those with diabetes, emphysema, sickle cell disease, or patients that have had a splenectomy (removal of the spleen). A single shot protects you almost for life, but in patients with debilitating illnesses a booster is recommended five years after the first shot.
Tetanus and diphtheria (Td) vaccine: Everybody got his three doses of DTP [Diphteria, Tetanus, Pertussis (whooping cough)] in childhood and a booster at the start of teenager.
But unless you have have a bad, dirty wound or burn, you might not have had a booster.
Every adult should get a Td booster every 10 years. It will protect you against Tetanus and Diphteria that are life threatening illnesses.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine: Adults born before 1957 are considered immune. Adults born after 1957 should receive one or more dose of MMR, unless they have a medical contraindication, documentation of one or more doses, or history of measles based on health care provider diagnosis or laboratory evidence of immunity.
Varicella (Chickenpox)Vaccine: If you were the only kid in the block that did not have chickenpox, you probably should get it. Chickenpox can cause serious complications in adults, including pneumonia.
Varicella Zoster Vaccine: is recommended for some adults older than 60 years of age, and with some medical conditions.
For patients at risk:
Hepatitis A (two shots 6-12 months apart) recommended for patients with chronic liver disease or international travelers to undeveloped countries.
Hepatitis B (three shots over a six month period) recommended for health care workers,
intravenous drug users, and those with risky sexual habits, chronic renal and liver diseases.
Meningococcal vaccine: adults without a spleen or complement deficiencies.
Live vaccines (Varicella, Zoster, and MMR) are contraindicated in immune compromised (meaning with low body defenses) patients, like those receiving cancer chemotherapy.
So remember: an ounce of prevention?.
Dr Ulloa is an internal medicine specialist and an advisor to the Ministry of Health.